NEW DELHI: The Delhi government’s transport department has proposed to offer a one-time waiver of penalty on non-payment of road tax for public service vehicles, including private buses, taxis, Gramin Sewas and RTVs. State transport minister Kailash Gehlot said that the proposal has been sent for approval to the finance department.

“The proposal has already been sent to the finance department for its approval. This penalty-waiver scheme is being brought in because businesses of a lot of private bus operators and taxi drivers came to a complete standstill during the lockdown months and even after unlocking of the economy, many of them could not resume operations owing to the city’s Covid-19 situation,” Gahlot told the media.

He further said that the scheme will bring much-needed relief to the transporter of Delhi who pays an annual road tax, non-payment of which attracts steep fines.

Anil Kumar from Bakshi Transport Services, told The Sunday Guardian: “Yes, this will give some relief, but we will have to pay the tax anyway. Other states have waived off the tax too. Uttar Pradesh has waived off the tax of 2-3 months. We are still out of business. There are no tourists and our buses are just parked here. This waiver of penalty is also not finalised yet.”

Several officials told The Sunday Guardian that the scheme will bring relief to the transporter of Delhi who pays an annual road tax, non-payment of which attracts heavy fines.

Ashu Grover, owner, Nitu Travel, told The Sunday Guardian: “This is just a proposal and they keep on sending such proposals but nothing substantial ever happens. Other states have already waived off taxes. Our buses are out of business now and we have additional burdens like permits renewals, taxes and additional charges like insurance. Suppose, we renewed our insurance in March last year, then we will have to renew it again in coming March. So, this is just a loss for us. We don’t have any business or earnings in the last one year. There is no tourist in-flow in Delhi right now. I don’t think anyone will be able to recover from this. The government should waive the complete tax for one year. Almost 80% people in our business are reluctant to continue and they want to sell their buses and exit the business. We have 30-40 buses; how are we going to renew the insurance and other charges as we haven’t earned a single penny this whole year. We have sent multiple letters to the government, but they are just ignorant of our issues.”

Last month, the Goa government had decided to waive 50% road tax for commercial vehicles. The decision was taken to compensate owners of such commercial vehicles for the period when they were off the roads due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had told the media: “Half of the commercial vehicles’ road tax has been waived till 31 March 2021. The Cabinet took the decision because commercial vehicles were not used for at least six months from March 2020 onwards. They won’t have to pay a penalty or interest.”

However, the scheme does not apply to private cars and two-wheelers since they pay a one-time road tax while purchasing the vehicle and do not have to pay the tax annually.

On 3 November, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) allowed private buses for inter-state bus movement. All three inter-state bus terminals (ISBTs) located at Kashmere Gate, Anand Vihar and Sarai Kale Khan were opened for public use on the same day.