GST effect: Are Mumbai roads staring at over-congestion?

Authorities worry that lowering of tax on cars, bikes will increase vehicles on Mumbai's already chock-a-block roads

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The city's authorities have been dreading this. Under the new Goods and Services Tax regime, buying a car or a two-wheeler has become cheaper, which means there could be a rise in the number of vehicles on the already congested roads.

This comes at a time when the authorities are trying their best to prevent an increase in the number of cars and bikes on the road, which has already touched 30 lakh in Mumbai. Officials from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) said they were expecting vehicle registration to go up anywhere between 10-20 per cent in the days to come.

Right now, around 1,000 vehicles are registered at the four RTOs of Tardeo, Andheri, Wadala and Borivli, daily. Until June 30, apart from the base price of a vehicle bought, there were other taxes such as excise duty, octroi, VAT and other cesses depending on the vehicle. Now, these have been replaced by a single GST that has brought down the taxation to 12 per cent depending on the size and engine capacity of a vehicle.

Before GST, the BMC would impose a 4.5 per cent tax on vehicles registered in Mumbai. This was much higher compared to other local civic bodies, such as Thane, Raigad and Palghar districts, which is why people used to register their vehicles, especially high-end ones, in Vasai, Thane, Kalyan and Panvel. But, now that taxes have come down, people may start buying vehicles from showrooms. "This will increase traffic and congestion on the roads," said an RTO official.

10 lakh vehicles on the road
Till 1980, the city had less than 3 lakh vehicles. It took 20 years for the number to cross the 10-lakh mark. The vehicular population was 12.94 lakh in 2005. Vehicular traffic on road begins right from 7.30 am in Mumbai and bumper to bumper traffic is seen till 11 am. The 1,900-km road network is under a lot of stress owing to the rising number of vehicles on it.

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