Mumbai: Civic body to restore property tax on sub-500 sq ft housing units – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: Dwelling units in Mumbai of less than 500 sq feet will soon attract higher property tax than in the previous year.

“It was a mistake,” said municipal commissioner Iqbal Chahal about the previous year’s assessment. “The state legislature while amending the BMC Act had allowed the waiver of only general tax. Instead of waiving only the general tax, we waived seven other components as well. This year we realised our mistake and have informed the government about it. We cannot repeat the same mistake every year and so this year’s bill will reflect the charges for the other seven components,” said Chahal.

There are 1.85 lakh dwelling units in the city that are less than 500 sq feet in size. The BMC annually earns Rs 360 crore from these units as property tax, which constitutes eight components including general tax. Waiver of the other seven components has cost the BMC Rs 285 crore. It works out to roughly Rs 150 per unit.

Chahal said BMC is considering recovery of the excess amount waived off last year. “We are yet to take a decision, and if we do recover the dues it would be at a later date,” he said.

While the BMC has claimed it is an oversight, civic observers said it was too much of a coincidence considering that last year there were the general elections as well as the state assembly elections. The Shiv Sena had made the waiver a prestige issue.
Mumbai: Civic body to restore property tax on sub-500 sq ft housing unitsSamajwadi Party corporator and MLA Rais Shaikh said the decision was intentional. “It is a fraud on Mumbaikars. If property tax for hoteliers and industry can be waived without approaching government, why not for ordinary citizens? It was a promise made by the chief minister and he must fulfil it, otherwise it will adversely impact the Maha Vikas Aghadi in the BMC elections,” he said.

BJP leader Prabhakar Shinde said it was a repeat of the promised electricity bill sops. “Initially the government promised to waive excess electricity bills but then refused to do it. The same story is being repeated in the BMC. First they give an assurance and then refuse to fulfill it,” said Shinde.



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Former BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta buys Nariman Point flat for Rs 5.3 crore – ET RealEstate

BY: Varun Singh

MUMBAI: Former municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, who was also the chief secretary of the state, has recently bought a flat in Nariman Point for Rs 5.3 crore. Mehta is currently the chief advisor to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The flat that Mehta bought is located on the 5th floor of Samata Co-operative Housing Society, on General Jagannath Bhosale Marg near Mantralaya. The carpet area of the flat is 1,076 square feet. The deal was finalised in October. Along with the apartment, Mehta has got two car parking spots in the building.

Mehta confirmed the deal to Mirror and added that he had bought it at market rate and that the documents are in the public domain. The market price of the flat is Rs 5.33 crore.

Mehta paid Rs 2.76 crore via RTGS, Rs 2.5 crore has been paid by him via a post-dated cheque of October 4, 2021. Rs 3.97 lakh (Rs 3,97,500) has been deducted as tax at source.

According to documents available, the stamp duty of Rs 10.68 lakh has been paid by the seller, Anamitra Properties Pvt Ltd, based in Pune. Anamitra Properties bought this flat in 2009, for Rs 4 crore from Ashish Manohar, son of late Justice Sharad Manohar. Ashish was the only legal heir of Justice Manohar, who died on October 4, 2000. The wife of Justice Sharad Manohar and his daughter had died earlier.

The Mumbai collector, on August 28, 2020, had granted the seller permission to transfer the flat by paying a transfer fee of Rs 16.80 lakh. This amount was also paid by the seller of the property. The seller, Anamitra Properties, did not respond to a detailed email sent to them regarding the deal.

About Mehta Mehta, a 1984 batch IAS officer, took over as the state chief secretary in May 2019. Before that, he had served as BMC commissioner for four years. He was to retire on September 30, 2019, but in view of the 2019 assembly polls, he was given an extension of six months, which was ending on March 31. He then got another extension, this time for three months, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He retired on June 30. He was then appointed as principal advisor of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.



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Mumbai: Housing society chairman who failed to audit his old building acquitted – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: A magistrate court recently acquitted the chairman of a Ghatkopar (W) housing society two years after he was booked for failing to get a structural audit done on the old and reportedly dilapidated building despite a BMC notice.

The court held that without making the legal entity, the housing society, an accused, only the office-bearer could not be held responsible in his personal capacity.

“Evidence on record reveals the notice is issued only to the chairman and secretary of the premises without issuing a notice to the society. The owner is the society. Hence, without making the legal entity an accused, only office-bearers cannot be held responsible in their personal capacity,” the court said.

The court said provisions of Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, under which chairman Deepak Doshi was facing prosecution, every owner or occupier of the premises was bound to carry out a structural audit of the building. “As the society is not prosecuted, the accused cannot be held guilty in his personal capacity for not carrying out the audit. Therefore, I hold the accused not guilty. He is entitled for acquittal,” the court said.

The complaint was submitted to court by the municipal corporation in July 2018. It was alleged that after receipt of a complaint from building resident Vanmani Bhuvan, a junior engineer inspected the premises in January 2018. He observed that there were two- and four-storeyed structures on the premises. The corporation said the engineer noticed cracks on beams and columns and vegetation growth on the buildings. He prepared the inspection report and submitted it to the assistant engineer.

Subsequently, in March, 2018 a notice was issued to Doshi. He was directed to carry out a structural audit of the building through a licensed structural engineer registered with the corporation. He was told to submit the structural stability certificate within a month. It was alleged that since Doshi failed to comply, an offence sheet was prepared against him and forwarded to the legal department of N ward for prosecution under MMC Act.

In February 2019, Doshi pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and denied the allegations.

During trial, the corporation’s lawyer examined five witnesses including the building resident who first complained, the junior engineer, assistant engineer, executive engineer and head clerk.



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Mumbai: BMC terminates 999-year lease of Kalbadevi property – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: In a first in the history of BMC‘s property leases, the civic administration has terminated a 999-year lease of the nearly century-old Pandya Mansion on Bomanji Master Lane near Kalbadevi post office.

BMC took possession of the Rs 200-crore property from the lessees, Prakash and Manoj Pandya, after they were charged with carrying out illegal constructions and digging a well without permission for the past several years.

Last year, the lessees were booked by police for illegal extraction of groundwater and its commercial exploitation, again a first such criminal case in Mumbai. The case was brought to light by RTI activist Sureshkumar Dhoka.

The termination notice sent by BMC’s Estate department said irregularities had been observed since 1986. Notices for breach of the lease agreement had been served on the lease holders since then. The lease holders never clarified, the notice said, regarding eight different cases of illegal mezzanine floor construction besides unauthorised digging of two wells and an illegal construction of a room in the mandatory open space area. A construction with a tin-roof was also found besides a room built below the staircase and in the common lane.

Inspections in 2017 and 2019 had confirmed illegal use of open spaces. The fire brigade too objected to illegal storage of scrap. Illegal use of heavy pumps and the mosquito menace due to water leakage have also been cited in the notice.

According to a senior Estate department officer, the BMC house gave permission to end the lease and accordingly, possession of the property was taken on November 13. “Now, the existing tenants are direct tenants of BMC,” he said, adding that only if repair cost is found to be more than 45% of redevelopment cost, only then the building may be vacated for redevelopment.

The BMC is justified in terminating the lease. But why did it take so long to crack the whip when the lessee was found committing irregularities since 1986? Illegal constructions were carried out inside the property along with other illegal activities despite a slew of notices. The BMC’s estate department must now undertake an audit of all municipal properties given on lease and ensure its tenants are not violating lease agreements.TimesView

In October last year, Azad Maidan police had registered an FIR against the Pandyas for groundwater theft worth Rs 73.19 crore over 11 years in connivance with a water tanker operator. As per the FIR, the accused sold nearly 6.10 lakh tankers (of 10,000 litres capacity each) of water with an average cost of Rs 1,200 per tanker for their own benefit. The police had slapped sections 379 and 34 under IPC against the accused based on the evidence provided by Dhoka, the main complainant in the case. Pandyas also allegedly forged building plans to show the presence of wells and obtained power connections illegally to extract water.The Lokmanya Tilak Marg police station filed a chargesheet against the Pandyas on these grounds. The C Ward office of BMC had also admitted that the wells were added to the original plan by the owners by creating fake documents. The National Green Tribunal had ordered the permanent closure of both the illegal wells on the premises.



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