BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The cat slipped out of the bag, or so it seems, after perusing the draft of a notification doing rounds in government departments saying that all tourist vehicles entering Goa will now have to pay a green cess of Rs 250. The “QR” code issued thereafter will exempt them from any further vehicle checks by any authority in the state of Goa.
It may be recalled that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had in the Budget 2023-24 speech announced that a sticker will be issued to every tourist vehicle entering Goa after checking all valid vehicle documents to allow them to roam freely in Goa without being stopped for checks.
“The Government hereby levies the Green Cess from all Non- Goan vehicles entering into the State of Goa on the following rate i.e. Rs 250/- per vehicle and the 'Green Cess' shall be collected at the border entry/exit points by the department of Transport ,” reads the draft of the notification.
“The Transport Department is not working on the design or anything to do with the sticker. We will only be collecting the fee for the government and handing it to the concerned department as we have manpower on the borders,” said B A Sawant, Deputy Director of Transport.
Tourists in Goa have at times alleged being harassed by the police for pecuniary gains and the move of the chief minister during the budget speech was viewed by many as a step to curb the menace, if any.
The draft notification perused by GT Daily indicates that the government intends to levy a green cess “for Non-Goan Vehicles entering Goa to support the upkeep, cleanliness, sanitation, medical support, changing rooms, electric charging stations, energy conservation measures and remedial measures to minimize pollution in the state.”
“The Transport Department is not aware of any such notification. I am aware of what the chief minister has said, and I advise you to meet the PWD for the finer details. Our role will be restricted to its implementation,” stated the deputy director of transport.
“The Directorate of Transport will be the implementing agency and the entire mechanism for implementation of the green cess will be through electronic means. The funds received will be deposited into a savings bank account. The funds will be utilised for the various activities as per budget announcement with the approval of the government,” reads the draft notification.
“Fees are today collected through hashtags at all entry and exit points, and it is a pity that the government did not think of using the new technology. By doing so, the Transport Department would have been freed of the extra workload,” stated a senior police officer who was of the opinion that the stickers would not prevent the police from enforcing the law.
“What happens if after getting the sticker, the driver of the vehicle is changed and a person without a valid license is at the wheel?” queried the officer on the condition of anonymity.
“I do not know how the government intends to introduce this green cess. Many years ago, the late Manohar Parrikar tried to introduce something like this, and it had to be scrapped. This does not sound right and will have long-term ramifications,” stated Jude D’Souza of Riya Travels.
Whether the green cess will be implemented successfully and continue in the state, remains to be seen.