Even as the civic body’s decision to abolish octroi to make way for the local body tax (LBT) has raised concerns among citizens and experts, it has also rendered crores of civic money spent on modernising octroi check posts in the city a waste.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had begun its project to improve infrastructure at all check posts in the city three years ago, under which construction of compound walls, administrative blocks and other basic works were taken up.
However, in its recently-announced budget, the BMC announced that it would abolish the ‘archaic’ octroi system and implement the LBT by October. As a result, some of the revamp projects have been shelved.
Work on the check post on the Eastern express Highway was completed last year at a cost of Rs 34 crore while works costing around Rs 60 crore at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Road and Mumbai-Panvel highway check posts have been halted midway. There are five main octroi check posts; at Lal Bahadur Shastri Road, Eastern Express Highway, Mumbai-Panvel Highway, Dah-isar and Mulund-Airoli Highway.
While the BMC charges octroi on all goods entering into the city on a daily basis, under the LBT traders would have to pay tax themselves after declaring their goods.
“After the BMC decided to form a policy to implement LBT based on state directives, we halted modernisation work at check posts. There was no policy decision from the BMC earlier and hence some works have been already completed,” said Jeevan Patgaonkar, City Engineer, BMC.
The shutting down of octroi check posts after the introduction of LBT has also raised security concerns. “The octroi system ensured all the goods brought are scanned and checked upon entry into the city. The police have also raised security concerns. Security at the city’s entry points could be endangered,” said Yashodhar Phanse, leader of the house and Shiv Sena corporator.
The ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in the civic body has opposed the introduction of LBT on grounds that it would cripple the BMC’s finances as octroi is the largest source of income.