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CHILDREN LIVING near the Dahisar octroi naka had a reason to cheer on Saturday, as the rollout of GST meant fewer trucks at the checkpost premises. Finding it vacant in the afternoon, the children took over the ground to play cricket.
The usually busy premises of the checkposts had barely 100 trucks on Saturday, after the octroi collection ended from midnight of June 30.
“We reached here half-an-hour before midnight, but it takes around two hours to complete the payment process. The officials have made us wait here. We do not know when they will let us go,” said Islam Khan, who had brought goods from Gujarat.
“These trucks had entered the naka before 12 am but did not complete the payment before midnight. We were unsure about what to do with them. However, now we have received orders that we give them pre-dated manual bills, with a note explaining the reason,” said RB Choudhary, assistant assessor and collector, Dahisar Check Naka.
Meanwhile, at the Vashi Naka, a moist-eyed L P Kanojia, deputy assessor at the Octroi Naka, claims Friday night felt like the end of an era. “Each day, at least 500 truck drivers would visit my office with their queries on the amount and the form. Each day felt like a challenge. I feel a vacuum,” he said.
While octroi collection was discontinued across the country, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) continued with its collection at five check-posts in the city, including at Mankhurd, two at Mulund, Dahisar and Airoli.
“We have been in this business for decades now. With octroi gone, we do not know what lies ahead for us. Many of our colleagues have already left for their hometowns,” said Abhay Chowdhury, private octroi agent who claimed that several across the five nakas have lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, certain nakas, including those at Mulund, greeted the first driver after 12 am with a garland, to mark the beginning of a new tax regime. “We are overjoyed with the removal of these posts, as this saves time,” said Mohan Mapralkar, a truck driver.
The staff at these nakas would now be deployed at other offices in the short-staffed BMC.
No decision has yet been taken on the utilisation of the check-posts premises. After 60 days, expressway bills will be introduced. It is a receipt containing the travel and consignment details, given to truck drivers before they commence their journey. These will have to be shown at the border points between two states.
“While we appreciate the welcome of e-way bills, but would like if the checking happens quickly. The process should not prove to be another traffic bottleneck,” said Gurvinder Singh, vice-president, Bombay Goods Transport association.
“For over a decade I have been guiding truck drivers to their destinations. With these nakas gone… I do not know what else I can take up to support my family,” said Haji Malang Shaikh, who guides drivers coming from other cities.
“Our contractors sent us a letter today, saying that our services have been terminated and we do not have to come to work from Monday,” said Anita Rawat, a data entry operator at the Dahisar octroi naka. There are around 100 like me who have lost their job due to this, she added.