The Regional Transport Commissioner's office in Thiruvananthapuram has decided to crack down on the thriving business of Keralites getting high-end cars registered in Puducherry, taking advantage of the low taxes in that state.
The transport commissioner's office has also decided to serve notices to popular actors Fahad Fazil and Amala Paul, whose luxury vehicles have a Puducherry number plate.
The estimated loss to the state exchequer due to this trend is reported to be in excess of Rs 300 crore over the past five years, according to a top official.
Besides having a very low rate of tax for car registrations, the only requirement is at the time of registration of a vehicle the car owner should have a Puducherry address.
At a high-level meeting presided over by Transport Commissioner Anil Kant, it was decided to serve notices to popular actors Fahad Fazil and Amala Paul, said top RTO official Rajiv Puthelethu.
Puthelethu told IANS that the figure of Rs 300 crore is just limited to high value cars that cost above Rs 20 lakh, and pertains to around 7,500 vehicles registered in Puducherry over the past five years.
"During our detailed probe we found the Pondicherry addresses given by the owners of high value cars include one-room houses and such type of homes. In some cases those living in the given address had no clue how their addresses were used," said Puthelethu.
He also said that at the meeting it was decided to form four special squads to track down those who have been circumventing the law by buying a car in Kerala and then taking it to Puducherry to get it registered and later bringing it back to Kerala for use in the state.
"As a first step we will serve notices to all those who have tried to circumvent the rule of law. Then they will be asked to remit the tax, otherwise legal steps would be initiated against them," added Puthelethu.
According to those in the know of things, vehicle owners need to pay Rs 50,000 to agents in Puducherry for the car registration, thereby saving a huge amount.
The agent's job is to ensure that a Puducherry address is made, and in some cases a rent agreement is also made in the name of the vehicle owner.
After the media highlighted the issue, the name of actor-turned-BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi also surfaced in connection with alleged evasion. Officials said they are working to round up each and every defaulter.