In a unique development concerning Electronic Way Bills, it has been reported in Surat that hundreds of parcels of clothes are being transported illegally by means of luxury buses to various towns and cities in Gujarat and beyond. Using luxury buses to ferry goods is not a new phenomenon. It used to be done before to ensure the quick delivery of goods. However, now people are resorting to this option to prevent handling the hassles associated with the generation of a Digital e-Way Bill.
Although the government had introduced the e Way Bill system with the aim of making the transport of textiles taxable and to bring them under the radar, this has not clearly been the case. In spite of digital e way bill getting introduced, transport of goods by illegal means is continuing unfettered. Reports have come in that thousands of meters of cloth are being transported from the places that store the cloth to other places by means of private cars and other means. Most of these illegal transshipment reach their destinations within 18-24 hours from the start of their journey.
Apart from the various towns and cities of Gujarat, finished goods are also being transported to various textile markets in neighbouring states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The merchants mostly use portals instead of parcels while transporting goods in these buses. People, who are aware of how this system functions, say that if goods are being ferried in one’s own bus or any other vehicle, the person purchasing the goods has to be present with the appropriate Bill.
The transporters take advantage of the fact that a person does not require to generate an e-Way Bill while transporting goods in a private bus or any small vehicle.
According to the e-Way Bill rules, any vehicle ferrying goods worth more than Rs 50,000 will have to have a GST number. Apart from this, details of the consignment have to be filled in Part A of the e Way Bill that is to be generated. Transporter details must be filled in the Part B of the Bill. However, all these details are not required to be filled while transporting goods in private or government buses.
Textiles merchants from neighbouring states like Rajasthan come to Surat to shop for textiles. They normally carry two-three parcels of 50 kg each in private buses. The bus operators hide these parcels in the roof, gallery or some other part of the vehicle. Operators of such buses have been also operating cargo service for goods. The average cost of transporting a parcel varies between Rs 300 – Rs 500.
This is a serious flaw of the e-Way bill system and needs to be redressed as soon as possible.