Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday said there is no proposal to exempt the helicopter service from Katra to Vaishno Devi shrine, from the service tax imposed on commercial chopper services in the state. “At the moment there is no proposal for exemption with the government,” Finance Minister Haseeb A Drabu said in a written reply to a question in the state Assembly.
National Conference MLA from Nagrota Devender Rana had asked if the state government intended to exempt the helicopter services to the revered shrines in Reasi district of the state from the 12.5% service tax imposed on commercial helicopter services.
Although the question could not be taken up during Question Hour, Rana raised the issue in the Zero Hour. “There is a contradiction…today the Finance Minister says there is no proposal for exemption while I was assured during the District Development Board meeting in Jammu by two ministers that the tax on pilgrimage service will be withdrawn” he said. The Finance Department on September 2 this year issued a notification levying a sales tax of 12.5 per cent on the “commercial helicopter services operating within the state”.
The move led to criticism of the state government from many quarters as they claimed that it was targeted at Vaishno Devi and Amarnath pilgrims. The government clarified that the taxation will apply to helicopter services for Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu, Amarnath Shrine and ropeway services to some of the revered sufi shrines in Kashmir as well. (Agencies)