On Saturday, Jayesh Mhatre was pleasantly surprised as his vegetable-laden lorry zipped through Mulund Octroi plaza without being stopped for the first time since he started driving 20 years ago.

The 47-year-old truck driver, who had been bringing in vegetables to Mumbai, used to camp at this toll collection junction for hours for verification of papers and goods — and to pay the Octroi, the additional levy on goods and products entering Mumbai for consumption, which the administration levied.

But with the rollout of the new Goods and Services Tax (GST), Octroi, which came into being in 1965 under the Bombay Municipal Corporation’s Octroi Rules, has been abolished.

“This is an end to a million worries. Apart from the time a vehicle used to spend at these nakas (check posts), these were also breeding grounds of corruption, with agents and officials fleecing lorry drivers,” Mhatre told BusinessLine .

Mumbai had five Octroi check posts – Vashi, Dahisar, Mulund, Thane and Airoli – which collected about ₹7,600 crore in the year ended March 31, 2017. BusinessLine visited all these posts to confirm that from June 30, all the check points have been shut down.

“This is the death of a legacy that lasted nearly 52 years from April 1, 1965, till June 30, 2017,” Mahesh Patil, a former Octroi agent, said. The daily collection at Mulund was at ₹3.5 crore from about 1,500-1,800 vehicles, while in Vashi it was ₹3 crore from 2,500 vehicles, officials at these check posts said.

According to Ravindra More, deputy assessor and collector, Eastern Highway Octroi Naka, the Octroi post had only 12 staff, and they would be redeployed.

The Octroi nakas also provided employment to about 3,000 licensed agents and a much higher number of unlicensed ones. The GST regime has put all of them out of jobs, Patil added.

Unlocking real estate value

The death of the Octroi regime has also freed up about 20 acres of real estate space, where these collection points and offices were housed. The ownership rights of the land and buildings, in real estate-starved Mumbai, are held by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). “No decision has been taken about the plots of land, which were used as Octroi check post and offices on the highways. The Commissioners concerned have been instructed to come up with suggestions for redeveloping the plots,” Ajoy Mehta, Municipal Commissioner, said.

A senior officer of MCGM said that Maharashtra Police wants to set up observation posts on these lands; ideas to redevelop the land into bus and truck terminals were also mooted. However, the administration is yet to take a decision on this.

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