All helicopter services in Kashmir to be taxed

Srinagar, Sep 8 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday said the proposed 12.5 percent service tax on helicopter services in the state was not limited to a particular route.

The state finance department made it clear that the service tax proposed to be levied by the state government is applicable to all commercial helicopter services operating in the state.

Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said a service tax is also being charged on ropeways and cable car services, which carry tourists and pilgrims to not only tourist resorts but also to some noted shrines in the Kashmir Valley.

“There is no question of charging such a tax on a particular route. A similar tax is being imposed on chopper services ferrying tourists to exotic spots like Gulmarg and Pahalgam,” he said.

Drabu said levying of service tax only adds Rs.130 to the cost of the chopper ticket on any route in Jammu and Kashmir ticket.

The minister expressed dismay over the reckless and provocative remarks by some political parties on the issue, whom he accused of trying to communalise a simple administrative order applicable throughout the state.

The Congress party had termed the state government’s decision to levy tax on helicopter services as “Jaziya” (tax which was payable by non-Muslims to the rulers during the period of Muslim rule in India).

The remark was made because helicopter services are used by pilgrims visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine and the Amarnath Cave Shrine by Hindu devotees.

Top BJP leaders, including National General Secretary Ram Madhav, have opposed the decision to levy such a tax.

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