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View Poll Results: Should we pay road tax for bad roads that never improve?
Yes 12 3.79%
No 305 96.21%
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Old 22nd February 2021, 11:58   #1
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Default Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Hi Bhpians,

This is an annexure to the previously discussed topic : (Supreme Court says NHAI can't collect toll on bad roads) , but this thread is specifically for linking road tax to the quality of state highways and city roads

Recently while driving in Kerala utilizing internal roads and state highways, I encountered a 5 KM stretch which looked like the road in the image below (for people in Kerala, it's the stretch between Ottapalam and Cherupulaserry). The entire stretch looked like the government started repairing the roads and abandoned it mid way.

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This was heartbreaking for me since I was driving a low slung sedan with brand new tires (less than 2 weeks old). I'll add to my complaint list, the amount of dust that was being thrown up due to this half finished road which might have clogged my car's new air filter, or the flying stones that might have caused minor damage to under body and paint.

Once back on the "highway", I started cruising at around 60 km/h on what seemed like perfectly maintained roads , but my 6th sense told me that it was too good to be true, especially in Kerala. As expected, a huge pothole (crater?) came up for which I had to slam the brakes. Fortunately, my car slowed down to a crawl before we hit the pothole and no damage was done, but the driver who thought he could overtake me ended up crashing through it. Fortunately for him, he was driving a Bolero.

The quality of state highways and city roads are a mixed bag. In the past, I've driven in A.P., T.N., GJ. and MH. The state highways in GJ and MH are pretty good IMO, with A.P. state highways being the worst (Ref: Rajamundry to Vijayawada), T.N. is more or less similar to KL, maybe slightly better. This made me wonder: What are we paying road tax for?

The National Highways? Aren't NH funded by the central government for which we already pay via our income tax and individual highway tolls? Since the road tax is state specific, if the state doesn't build good roads, don't we as a consumer have a right to deny paying road tax? The problem is made worse considering we have to pay a 15 year lump sum road tax upfront at the time of vehicle purchase. Further, I am not aware of any law that helps one get a refund from the regional transportation authority if the roads are never repaired. I think the least the state governments can do is stop collecting tax in lump sum and make it an annual deduction.

In the specific case of Kerala, we are famous for executing road development projects that run into decades (Alapuzha bypass took 40 years to complete!), or performing a shoddy job (The brand new Palarivattom flyover is being rebuilt in Kochi). As a Malayalee, I do wonder why I owe the Kerala Government any road tax, when the roads in the state have been bad since the beginning of my memory? In the rare case where roads are good, they're so narrow that 2 trucks won't be able to pass each other. Want an official proof of bad roads in KL? Read This! (Kerala minister's Innova Crysta uses up 34 tyres in 1.25L km / 2 years)

I know this is a sensitive topic and probably my understanding is limited on how road tax works, but I'm curious to know the views of fellow Bhpians.


Last edited by govindremesh : 23rd February 2021 at 12:40.
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Old 24th February 2021, 07:16   #2
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Street Experiences section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th February 2021, 07:29   #3
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

I believe there are two parties that stand as an audience to any Supreme court ruling.

a) The influential
b) The common people

Take an example of the sunfilm ban. It was enforced with great vigour and pretty much every common individual worth his penny had these ripped out. But, if you sport a large political party sticker or ride on an intimidating set of wheels, no one dares to touch you. I pretty much see each of these cars listed above drive with a dark film even on the windscreen!!

Similarly in line with the toll notice, they can state all that they want but if this ruling had to be enforced, people commuting on Satara highway (The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway) would not have to shell out one of the highest per km toll rates for what is the worst possible highway in the country!

EDIT: I'll be surprised if I see even a single bhpian voting "Yes" on this poll

Last edited by moralfibre : 24th February 2021 at 07:31.
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Old 24th February 2021, 07:46   #4
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

On a lighter note, if we strictly go by the quality of roads and safety versus the road tax and tolls we pay, we all are eligible to get a huge chunk of money as tax refund. Or else instead of refund, govt. can give us a rugged SUV that can go anywhere and we can put the famous stickers "No Road, No Problem" on them and drive around

The experience you encountered is a rare one these days as majority of the interior roads in Kerala are well paved. My guess is this stretch must be caught tangled in some local politics/red tapism. Members from the region can throw light.

Having driven a good part of my life on Kerala roads, I can safely say the primary issue Kerala faces is the lack of wide roads. The NH itself for most part in the state is still a single carriage way and it had the same width when I used to bicycle on them as a school boy. Needless to say the vehicle density has grown manifolds over the years. A day journey from state capital Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi which is just a shade above 200 kms would take anywhere between 6-7 hours and that translates to 27 kms per hour. This is roughly the same distance one would cover driving in the hills of a treacherous stretch in Himachal or J&K. And if one were to drive this distance on a 6 lane highway, it could only take 2.5 hours. I'm sure each of us will have a stretch to name from their respective state or a route they frequent which has same plight. That would be worthy of another thread. Just imagine the amount of man hours and fuel wasted on our ill-fated roads.

On a related note, better roads also mean less fuel sales. With fuel taxation being the golden goose for all govt, any dip in sales means the squeeze has to happen somewhere else. End of the day the tax paying public is in one soup or the another.

Also as road tax payers, we all would be living in a fool's paradise if we believe the road tax collected is only utilized for road infra development.

Last edited by Bibendum90949 : 24th February 2021 at 08:11.
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Old 24th February 2021, 08:08   #5
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Are we REALLY paying ROAD TAX? I don't think, any of us are paying road tax. All that we are paying is EARTH TAX.

As long as cars have earth beneath them, owners are expected to pay the earth tax. For all toll roads, we are paying tolls separately. And all toll free paths are NOT Roads in majority of the travel.

On serious note, there has to be transparency on road tax collected by every state and amount spent on every road repair in the state along with details of road ID, Start point, end point, how many kms laid, thickness of road, warranty in years for the constructed road, etc

The above details, in addition to date of last laid tarmac, warranty expiration date, contractor contact details, government official contact details (for complaint registration) etc, should be displayed at both the ends of every road(max every 10kms) in the state(the way they display toll road begins and toll road ends signs)

And the balance (amount collected versus amount spent) should tally to zero.

Any traveller who observes damaged tarmac on any part of the road should be able to send complaint to contractor and government official to take immediate action, by seeing the details in the display board at the end of every road.

During warranty period, the contractor should be held responsible for repair within 2 days(not patch work but repair full width and at least 100 m length without variances in the level of road.

Penalty clause in case of any complaint by travellers beyond 2 days should be so heavy that the contractor should be afraid to take contract.

Without these implementation strictly, we end up in continuing this situation

Last edited by gkveda : 24th February 2021 at 08:24.
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Old 24th February 2021, 08:34   #6
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

I get your point, but not paying these taxes or tolls won't solve any problems either. In my youth, I had the itch to rebel against 'injustices' such as these but nowadays, I find greater pleasure in paying my taxes and whining about the government after.

A Common, Ignorant Indian

Last edited by lonetraveller89 : 24th February 2021 at 08:37.
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Old 24th February 2021, 09:06   #7
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Questioning the premise of a tax is questioning our social contract and democracy itself. I won't go much deeper on that as I want to stick to the forum rules.

A smarter thing to do would be to demand for accountability; especially when the government fails to deliver on the infrastructure. While accidents are unavoidable, many can be prevented with the right infrastructure. Not sure whether Indian law should allows citizens to sue local governments/NHAI for compensation/damages due to an accident due to negligence.

Example of a case in Palo Alto, CA, USA:

Here's a sad incident in Bangalore:

For an ideal government:

Income taxes are basic taxes for the government to pay for things defense, railways, banks, government bureaucrat salaries etc.

Road tax is meant for building more roads. As every citizen has a different type of vehicle, the taxes collected differ. Also, excise tax on fuel and cars are supplementary consumption taxes to build infrastructure. Remember, India is still a developing country and needs a lot of infrastructure. Tolls are separately collected as not everyone uses highways for most of their driving.

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 24th February 2021 at 09:07.
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Old 24th February 2021, 09:41   #8
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Originally Posted by govindremesh View Post
Hi Bhpians,

This is an annexure to the previously discussed topic : (Supreme Court says NHAI can't collect toll on bad roads) , but this thread is specifically for linking road tax to the quality of state highways and city roads
Going by this, Karnataka should be a tax-free state, yet they have the highest road tax. I remember back in 2018, I was traveling back to Manipal from Hyderabad. Everything was absolutely fine till I reached TS/KA border. Then I realized that I should have bought an Endeavour instead of a Superb. Bellari and roads beyond it demolished my lower control arm and a part of the underbody shielding was ripped off, despite me going as slow as possible.

Luckily, both my home states of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have slightly better roads now. Also, I've started diagonal ramping wherevere I am unsure. Thanks to KA, suspension overhaul coming in a year. On a side note, majority of the roads near Manipal and Mangalore are pretty decent.
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Old 24th February 2021, 09:43   #9
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

As a passer-by, we may not like a "bad road". But to the people staying on that road, it is a lifeline. Am not going to touch upon the role and lubrication of various stakeholders for this.

What we often miss while qualifying/comparing a road is the extreme weather conditions india and the terrain on which it is built.

MH, GJ, north KA have better roads largely due to the flatness. For example the old Mumbai Pune road was a terror to drive on with the extreme slopes of Khandala. Only after the express way was built in late 1990s the conditions improved.
That road became a benchmark for the entire country. The same is replicated till date.

If we have to define the cost of actually maintaining the road, it encompasses from getting the machinery, manpower, material there to the site. Often forgotten is the cost of moving the machinery especially in difficult terrains, for every little pothole is huge. Hence this is taken at a consolidated frequency. Even if this is done and sudden rains wash out the road, what happens? Who pays for that?

Tolls alone will not maintain the road. It is always the combination of road tax, tolls and tax payers money which makes it and maintains it.
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Old 24th February 2021, 09:46   #10
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Despite paying taxes, we've been putting up with a lot of bad stuff in India. We've become inured, or numb, to the futility of paying taxes. We just sidestep the Government and move on.

* Because our Government run schools are corrupt and decrepit, the Indian middle class began sending kids to private schools. It's the norm now.

* Similarly, Govt hospitals get eschewed and private hospitals are flocked to by us.

* Public transport has been eschewed by us since facilities have sucked (even though things are changing now) and we started out on mopeds, Hamara Bajajs and Maruti 800s etc. progressively on our own.

In that light, the current SUV craze in our market can be best understood by us. To reiterate what I've said before, I've had it with driving around in a hatchback which gets beached on its underbelly on a poorly constructed culvert or on a hardened soil hump left behind by a negligent road construction crew somewhere. Not to mention that insecure feeling when driving over bad roads in a sedan or hatchback!

Thus, getting the toughest SUV possible was my aspiration.

I'm one of the few who've voted "yes" on this poll. I would've preferred "why not?" as an option. This is a slippery slope after all. We've never had good government run facilities after all. Why not, indeed!

Last edited by locusjag : 24th February 2021 at 09:48.
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Old 24th February 2021, 09:59   #11
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Originally Posted by govindremesh View Post
As a Malayalee, I do wonder why I owe the Kerala Government any road tax, when the roads in the state have been bad since the beginning of my memory?
If you don't, the State will cease to exist. Road Tax, Tourism, Funds from abroad are the main sources of income for this state. Things would have been slightly better had they not chased away BMW. The road tax you pay is also needed to keep Meat Products of India afloat.

Not only have roads been bad, there is no room to build a new road too. Kerala State is saturated. You need an elevated highway that runs right from Trivandrum to Kasargod, as there is no space on the ground.

Last edited by Aditya : 24th February 2021 at 19:59. Reason: Typos, political bits deleted
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Old 24th February 2021, 10:15   #12
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Voted yes (we should pay road tax).

Road tax is not a payment to government to develop roads. It is one of several property ownership taxes. It is up to the government to pool in all such taxes and then divvy it up in a way that best suits the society. It sounds disingenuous to say that my road tax must be used only to develop the roads I travel on.

What I'd like to see is scrapping the 15-year LTT policy; instead an annual (or even shorter duration) taxation in place. This is already in place for CV owners I believe; need this for private vehicle owners too.
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Old 24th February 2021, 10:25   #13
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

Voted NO.

On a lighter note, the following benefits are derived by paying taxes / tolls for bad roads -

1. To help improve your patience?

2. If you fail the first, then helps improve your cussing skills!

3. Either way, it helps to test the build quality of your car.

4. Of course, help the auto maintenance garages, spare parts manufacturer, seller et al continue to thrive.

5. Decrease your fuel efficiency so as to help you to visit the fuel stations more frequently, especially in times of rising prices?

5. The help the respective contractors and government create more wealth on re-laying and re-re-laying the same bad patches over and over again?

6. Last but not the least, to help you not to nitpick on the difference between on which is the best road you have ever driven / ridden
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Old 24th February 2021, 10:31   #14
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

By that reasoning, everyone who has been living in Bangalore for the past 20 years should have been receiving remittances from the government for the absolutely pathetic state of the city's roads!

I would much rather pay a 'Metro tax' and have that project get completed faster!

But we don't have much (or any) choice do we? What's the dictionary definition of an entity that takes more than a 30% share of your income and provides absolutely nothing in return?

Last edited by am1m : 24th February 2021 at 10:33.
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Old 24th February 2021, 10:42   #15
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Default Re: Why should we pay road tax / tolls for bad roads?

I don't know how reliable/accurate this is, but this image was/is fairly popular during the Budget / anytime there is a significant Cess/Subsidy. It isn't clear how pertinent Infrastructure is, when it comes to Budget allocation.

That said, our road infrastructure is rather poor, not in terms of connectivity or reach, but the condition and speed of travel it supports. But then, we are only just overcoming even basic issues such as clean water, electricity and sanitation.

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Should we be paying toll for the roads we use, Maybe/Sure.
Should we be paying toll on top of the already high road tax, Hell no.

This absolute disgust most of us have at the toll booth stems from several factors:

a) Roads are fairly poor even on tolled roads. Take Pune - Satara for instance
b) Every TDH, with a Caste/Political party symbol can bulldoze their way through them without paying tax. Very unfortunately, even our Hon Judges seem to find a quick way out
c) The amount of leakage is shamefully high; safe to say only about 20-25p/rupee of toll gets actually spent on road construction/repair?

All said and done, we (the common man) are, very unfortunately and shamefully, the unrelenting, mute and perennial cash cow the Govt. can unconditionally bank on.
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