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Manipur burdened by highway ‘taxes’
Correspondent IMPHAL, DEC 7:
Published on 8 Dec. 2008 1:08 AM IST
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Prices of essential commodities in Imphal are still double or triple the prices of these items in Dimapur (Nagaland), the nearest rail-station and around 225 km from Imphal, due to various taxes imposed by militant groups along the NH-39, the lifeline of Manipur State. Taxes imposed by militant outfits including those having ceasefires with the government as well as taxes collected at police and other check posts along the stretch of the highway, have led to the gulf of difference in prices of essential commodities between Imphal and Dimapur Though there is a slight reduction in prices of essential commodities, which were hiked during the more than two weeks economic blockade of NH-39, rice, onion and potato are sold here in the local markets at Rs. 20, Rs. 18 and Rs. 8 respectively per kg. The price of rice per kg, which was increased to Rs. 24 from Rs. 17 (before economic blockade) has been reduced by Rs. 4, but still the rate (Rs. 20 per kg) is three times higher than that in Dimapur from where it is transported to Imphal. Likewise, the there is a difference of Rs. 7 in the price of onion per kg in Imphal (Rs. 18) and Dimapur (Rs.11) markets. Potato which is sold at Rs. 6 per kg in Dimapur is sold at Rs. 10 in Imphal. The slight reduction in prices is attributed to local produce which are presently making their way into Imphal markets. However, this phenomenon will be short lived as there are no changes in the freight charges for the truckers and expenditures incurred at the time of transporting the essential commodities to Imphal. Heavy “illegal taxes” collected by militant outfits and different kinds of taxes imposed at check posts by both State and non-governmental agencies along the stretch of the highway from Imphal to Dimapur, have been continuing unabated for a long time. Truckers confided that apart from confronting with the bad conditions of the highway, they are wary of negotiating payment of taxes with the police and different outfits for every trip from Imphal to Dimapur and back. On the other hand, truckers have to keep in mind the interests of the truck and goods owners while negotiating taxes. “We spend Rs. 1500 per trip at the minimum during the journey from Dimapur to Imphal with goods,” a driver on condition of anonymity told this correspondent. He also said imposition of entry taxes in the Manipur section (Mao to Imphal) is on the rise. It is reported that truckers have to pay Rs. 400 each to at least four police check posts located along the stretch from Dimapur to Khuzuma gate within Nagaland state and Rs. 50 to Rs. 150 to three police check posts within Manipur (from Mao to Imphal). Apart from this, in the Nagaland section, the truckers pay Rs. 100 each as sale tax, excise tax and traffic tax which are located nearby the police check posts. Besides this, Rs. 200 has to be paid to police reserve post near Kohima, the drivers alleged. To top all these, truckers pay a minimum of Rs 1500 as goods tax and Rs. 250 as gate pass per trip to more than twenty militants outfits collecting taxes on the stretch of the highway. Goods tax is being paid above the godown taxes and others which are not less than Rs. 15,000 per month.

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