A dozen states have flouted rules and set up numerous check posts along the major national highways to mop up revenues through levy of octroi, sales tax and excise tax. Setting up of check posts within the right of way of national highways is not permitted and as per the National Highway Act, states are eligible to set up such barriers only outside the right of way and with prior permission of the Centre.
The main offenders include Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Rajasthan and other north-eastern states such as Assam and Meghalaya. According to data compiled by the ministry of road transport and highways, the other states which have set up barriers along highways are Kerala, Gujarat, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh.
Orissa has erected the maximum number of 107 barriers on the national highways criss-crossing the state. The barriers have mainly been set up at the state border for collection of commercial tax, octroi, forest, sales tax and municipal tax levied by the state.
In case of the north-eastern states, other than for collection of taxes, the state administration have cited law and order compulsions for setting up such posts. While Assam has 92 checkposts on national highways, Manipur and Meghalaya have 36 and 24 locations where barriers have been set up on highways, according to the ministry of road transport and highways.
Others states which have set up such barriers on national highways include Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh. While Uttaranchal has set up 20 checkpoints on national highways, Uttar Pradesh has erected 16 such barriers.
Numerous barricades tax on major national highways are also against the principles of the impending value added tax (VAT) regime which is expected to be implemented across the country from April 1, 2003. "Such barriers defeat the purpose of free trade among states and only cause harassment to transporters and are root causes of corruption," a tax analyst said.