Toll gates must for taxes: KHADC

Council says Sixth Schedule empowers it to collect revenue

SHILLONG, April 19: Two days after asking the Meghalaya Commercial Truck Owners and Drivers’ Association (MCTO&DA) to substantiate its allegation about “extortion” through illegal toll gates, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) on Tuesday decided to write to the state government to allow the council and the Himas to continue to collect their taxes.
“We are aware that we are not allowed to set up gates along the national highways. But we are planning to set up such gates along the bye-lanes that are far from the national highway,” KHADC executive member in charge of trade, Jambor War said after the meeting with the Syiems of various Himas from the Eastern West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills districts and senior officials of the council.
He said they had also deliberated on the order issued by the District Council Affairs (DCA) department. War said the government and the National Highways Authority of India are against the setting up of the gates along the national highway. But the government should not have a problem with gates off the national highway within the KHADC’s jurisdiction, he added.
“These gates will allow the council to collect its taxes. The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution empowers the district council to generate its own revenue,” he said.
War also said the Himas should also be allowed to continue their traditional collection by having their own gates.
Recently, MCTO&DA president Moskalander Marngar said the KHADC and the Himas were extorting truckers by putting up 32 illegal toll gates in the Khasi Hills region.
On February 25, the joint secretary of the DCA department had written to the deputy commissioners, directing them to take necessary action for the closure of all toll gates erected by the autonomous district councils (ADCs) or authorities acting under them, including traditional bodies, on national highways, state highways and major district roads.
The department said the power to collect toll/taxes by the ADCs and the traditional institutions under them is confined to their area of jurisdiction and does not extend to national highways and state roads, over which the Public Works Department has jurisdiction.
Marngar had alleged the truckers are forced to pay Rs 18,000-20,000 while plying through the illegal toll gates.

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