Citizens pay for road upkeep, the money disappears!
Is the government diverting the road cess of Rs 6/litre of fuel, asks Prafulla Mahanta
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Oct 26: Peeved at the deteriorating condition of the State highways, former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today demanded a white paper on the utilization of the road cess levied on petrol and diesel.
The Central government had in 1999 introduced a road cess on petrol and diesel which is meant to be exclusively utilized for development of roads. The cess collected by the Central government is not shared with the states and is put aside in a Central Road Fund.
Petrol attracts a total excise duty of Rs 17.46 per litre, including Rs 2 a litre as road cess. Similarly, diesel attracts an excise duty of Rs 10.26 a litre, which includes Rs 2 as road cess. The road cess on petrol and diesel has now been raised to Rs 6.
"Thus every citizen is paying Rs 6 for building his/her own road the moment he buys one litre of petrol or diesel. However, the condition of the state and tiol highways are in pathetic condition now," Mahanta said.
Providing basic infrastructure such as roads is a fundamental duty of every government, he said, adding that in spite of collection of huge amount of fund over the years, the condition of the roads have not changed.
"It is high time to ask the government why we do not have decent roads in the State. Why is road connectivity within the State in such bad shape?" Mahanta asked.
Apprehending that the road cess raised from fuel may have been diverted for other purposes, Mahanta sought a high-level inquiry to unearth the truth.
He also demanded a white paper on the total road cess collected from fuel in the State and the amount spent on the state roads.
The AGP leader also demanded scrapping of the cess imposed on small tea growers.
"The small tea growers, who do have their own factories, have to pay 25 paise per kg of green leaf. This cess should be imposed on factories to which they supply the green leaves and not on the small tea growers," he said.