Three years after the public works department (PWD), Punjab, issued a notification regarding road access charges from owners of commercial properties such as petrol pumps, marriage palaces, hotels, industrial units, private schools and hospitals, notices are now being sent to various units for recovering the charges in lakhs under various categories.
The development has irked the industrialists in the state as they alleged that only those who had applied for NOC over the last years are being sent these notices while a lot many violators who never applied for NOCs are not on the department’s radar as their name is not in the system.
Facing a rude shock, a number of industry owners in the state have started receiving notices from the PWD asking them to pay recurring road access charges ranging from ₹1.5 lakh to ₹6 lakh for every five years.
The industry says the charges being levied for permissions taken 10 to 15 years ago are extremely high and have no justification.
Pankaj Sharma, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking, termed the tax “totally unjustified and uncalled for” keeping in view that industry already pays a number of taxes under the Factories Act every year and one-time fee to the forest department as well.
These notices have been issued to many industries and it is likely that more such notices will be issued in coming days, said Sharma.
“The industry has sent a memorandum to the CM office apprising him about the problems arising out of this tax. On one hand, the state government is trying to attract investors in the state and on the other hand, the government is imposing such taxes, which will discourage those who wish to set up units in the state,” he said.
The Confederation of India Industry (CII), Punjab, has also issued a statement calling the taxes as not justified.
“Before issuing any retrospective notices, industry should be called for consultation. All those have taken NOC as per law years ago in some cases as old as 2006 and deposited all required fee such as the EDC, building fee, forest fee, etc, are being asked to deposit recurring fee for the last five years and those who did not take any permission are not getting any notices as their data does not exist with the department. We would also be appealing to the government in this regard to waive off the charges,” said Amit Thapar, chairman, CII, Punjab.
Earlier in August, Punjab PWD minister Harbhajan Singh had directed immediate recovery of access road charges from owners of commercial properties, including industrial units.
Principal secretary, PWD, Anurag Verma said all the notices are being sent as per the notification issued in 2019 for the recovery of road access charges by various units as per law.
One of the industrialists, who has received the notice, said the notification was issued in January 2019. “For three years, nothing was done and suddenly the government wakes up and decided to collect revenue. Our issue is not that we do not want to pay but only those who applied for NOCs for road access charges have got these notices while there are many who never even applied. These violators will not get notices as their names are not there in the data maintained by the government,” he said.