Taking a cue from archrival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the Lonavla unit of the Shiv Sena and its youth wing, Yuva Sena, yesterday agitated against “arbitrary” collection of environment and road tax from tourists by the Lonavala Nagarpalikasince the past three months.
The protesters started their agitation by forcing the toll plaza at Khandala on NH 4 to halt operations yesterday afternoon. The MNS recently agitated against what it called was arbitrary toll collection at toll centres across the state.
Shiv Sena workers yesterday protested in Khandala, where contractors appointed by the Lonavala Nagarpalika were reportedly collecting toll. “Since the past three months, Lonavla Nagarpalika has been collecting environment and road tax from tourists without permission from the state government,” Sena district president (Pune) Machhindra Kharade said.
He added that the civic body does not have any authority to collect such taxes and when he asked the officials to show the Government Resolution (GR) in this regard a few days ago, they showed his the proposal passed in the Nagarpalika for collecting tax. “Such proposals are not sufficient for collecting any kind of tax and a government resolution is necessary in such cases,” Kharade said.
Besides the GR, he said that the civic body did not have NOC from the Public Works Department to collect these new taxes and the Lonavala Nagarpalika is fleecing tourists by collecting Rs 20 each as road and environment tax. Nagaradhyaksha Surekha Jadhav claims that the civic body possesses GR from the state government permitting collection of the taxes. “The state government has directed us to collect environment and road tax from tourists and we are just following orders,” Jadhav said.
She added that the government not only directed them to collect the tax, but issued orders stating the revenue be used for public facilities for tourists. She also alleged petty political interests behind the Shiv Sena agitation.