Goa village withdraws 'swacchta tax' imposed on clicking photos, videos

Topics Goa Tourism  | Selfies | photos

The rural settlement in question, Parra, is the ancestral village of late chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

The panchayat of a village in Goa on Thursday announced withdrawal of a tax imposed on tourists clicking pictures and shooting videos in its jurisdiction.

The move came hours after tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said his department has not granted permission for imposition of such a tax and assured an inquiry into the issue.

The rural settlement in question, Parra, is the ancestral village of late chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

Located just 9km from Panaji in North Goa, the village is known for its scenic beauty and its main road is lined with coconut trees.

Deliah Lobo, sarpanch of Parra, told reporters that Swachhta Tax imposed in jurisdiction of the village panchayat has been withdrawn "as of now".

The matter came to light on Wednesday after some Goa- based activists took to social media to highlight that the Parra panchayat had been levying tax on clicking pictures or shooting videos in its jurisdiction.

A sign board put up prominently on the main road of the village reads: "Swachhta Tax/Mission Clean Parra Tax will be levied on all film shoots and photo shoots. Tax will vary for individuals and commercials.

Ajgaonkar on Thursday disapproved of the move, saying it does not have the government's sanction.

"My department has not granted any permission for imposition of such a tax. We will inquire into this," he said.

Ajgaonkar said such a levy will hurt the tourism sector, the mainstay of Goa's economy.

If every panchayat starts imposing its own tax like this, it would be harmful for the states tourism potential, he said.

Within hours of the ministers statement, Lobo announced the panchayat has decided to withdraw the tax, but sought to defend the move.

"The decision to impose tax was not to earn revenue, but to bring in discipline on the road (frequented by tourists). Tourists were blocking the traffic and creating nuisance on the road, Lobo said.

She said the idea behind imposing the tax was not to earn revenue, but to stop visitors from causing traffic jams.

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