Toll Plaza plan angers Polem locals


Government’s plans to set up toll plazas at all entry points along the State’s border to collect the entry tax on vehicles has generated angry reactions among residents at Pollem and politicians across the border
With revenue from the mines industry dwindling, the State government has hit upon an innovative plan to enrich its coffers by plans to levy taxes on non-Goan vehicles entering the State.
However, the State government’s plans to set up toll plazas at all entry points along Goa’s border to collect the entry tax on vehicles has generated angry reactions at Pollem-Canacona, both among residents in Canacona and politicians from across the border.
At Polem, locals have alleged that the toll plaza is supposed to be located about 2 kms from the Polem check post and have suspected the hand of an engineer who owns a hotel and has used the PWD to erect this toll plaza far away from his commercial premise to facilitate his business.
Under the leadership of Xavier Fernandes, many aggrieved businessmen from Loliem approached a legal advisor, who is learnt to have told them that he would take up the matter in the appropriate court when the official notification is published.
“The State government has not applied its mind in a proper way to levy the road entry tax,” said Catharine D’Souza of Polem, whose house is located near the proposed toll collection booth.
“Other residents and I will oppose this toll plaza. There is a plenty of space at the Polem border check post. The toll booth should be located at the Polem check post and not far away, to help some businessmen operating in this region,” said D’Souza.
When contacted, PWD Principal Chief Engineer J J S Rego said he had received letters from residents from Polem stating that they were aggrieved with the alleged setting up of a poll plaza away from the Polem border. Rego said he had forwarded the letter with his comments to the concerned authorities.
Rego diverted the matter to the Executive Engineer of Highways Umesh Kulkarni at Margao.
When contacted, Kulkarni said he was not aware of the toll plaza at Polem. “I was instructed to take up the road-widening work at Polem that was duly completed. I was unaware of the toll plaza at Polem and my office is yet to receive any government notification,” he said.
Incidentally, the State government’s move to set up toll plazas along the borders has evoked sharp reaction from Karnataka.
A Karnataka minister is reported to have conveyed his displeasure to the Goa government, warning that Karnataka could be forced to retaliate. 
If taxes are imposed on non-Goan vehicles entering Goa, the Karnataka minister said Karnataka would be compelled to set up similar toll collection booths for vehicles entering Karnataka.
He warned that this would result in multiple taxation that will be revolted by the inter-state vehicles operators and the matter could land in the courts. [H]