Union Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said Rs 12,139 crore has been set aside to improve ambient air quality, and Rs 26,057 crore for drinking water, sanitation and solid waste management.
He said urban local bodies will have to notify property tax in line with the state GDP to avail the grant recommended by the 15th Finance Commission.
These bodies will also have to make public their audited and unaudited annual accounts, the official said.
Talking about Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech, Mishra said ‘Pey Jal Survekshan’ will be conducted in cities to ascertain equitable distribution of water, reuse of wastewater and mapping of water bodies with respect to quantity and quality of water through a challenge process.
In a statement, the ministry said the Mission has a reform agenda with focus on strengthening of urban local bodies and water security of cities.
PUNE: Proximity with an upscale locality usually helps residents of peripheral areas gain some benefits in terms of rates of property and development — but residents of Lohegaon located towards the east and north side of Viman Nagar demur strongly.
These locals have raised a complaint with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) property tax department, demanding a reduction in their property tax, which is equivalent to that paid by denizens of the comparatively upscale Viman Nagar area.
Lohegaon locals claim that as compared to Viman Nagar, their recently merged village is far behind in terms of development work and property rates. And yet still, the per square foot property tax rate is the same for both areas, inadvertently forcing Lohegaon inhabitants to pay a double tax. They also submitted that the neighbouring Dhanori areas, developed paying less property tax, show that no proper survey has been held while deciding tax slabs.
In their correspondence with PMC since a month, the residents say Viman Nagar is developed with a well-defined Development Plan (DP). “The roads are widened up to 180 ft with all civic amenities. There is a network of sewage and water lines. Widened roads are connected to each housing society and lane.
Malls, IT parks and showrooms, theme parks, public gardens, play areas, recreational halls, public toilets, schools, hospitals, colleges and offices all make this suburb one of the most elite in the city.
On the contrary, recently merged Lohegaon faces severe issues of water and drainage,” says the complaint, adding, “Here, roads are merely around 10 ft-wide without footpaths. The rates of property and land are less than half compared to Viman Nagar, but taxes are still the same.”
The residents further claimed that while Viman Nagar residents pay Rs 3.8 per month per sq ft, just like them, neighbouring Dhanori pays Rs 2.25 per month per sq ft. Lohegaon gaothan resident Sunil Tapkir said, “This is an injustice and needs to be revised. The two suburbs have no proximity as claimed by the authorities. There is a huge defence airport between the localities, separating us. And yet we are forced to pay similar charges in the name of proximity. Residents of Sant Nagar, Gurudwara Colony, Bhukan Wasti, Talekar Wasti are all dominated by the middle class and originally belong to farmer communities. They hardly get any civic amenities.” Mama Khandve, another resident, echoed, “There is no uniformity while applying the rule of taxes. Some parts of Khese Park in Lohegaon and other localities pay taxes at the Dhanori rates. This shows that the system is being applied without any proper survey or ready reckoner rates.”
Asked about this confusion, joint municipal commissioner Vilas Kanade, who heads the PMC property tax department, said, “We have received communication from Lohegaon residents and are working on their queries. We also plan to re-survey the area to revise the tax slabs. There are a total of 600 divisions of taxes and we do not conduct this survey annually. The development of different areas keeps floating, which is why such differences occur. We will certainly address the grievance of the Lohegaon residents and fresh verification rates will be drafted.”
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. Samajwadi 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.
The AMC has also directed Suresh Tahiliani, owner of the ceramic business in Naroda, to stop using a portion of his residence as workplace as he had earmarked a small space of the property as his office following the lockdown period.
Though Tahiliani stopped using the space as office, he was forced to move the city civil court against the AMC’s notice which also directed him to restore the property to its original status of “residential” . Last week, the court stayed any action on AMC notice at least till the civic body explained its position before the court.
Tahiliani had purchased a residential property, demolished the structure and rebuilt it in 2016. A year later, he obtained the building use permission for residential purpose. He has been paying property tax to the civic body under the category of residential property for two years.
In July this year, he was asked to pay commercial tax for the property for 2019-20 after civic officials found an office being run from the premises. Tahilani had no issue with paying commercial tax, but AMC issued him a notice asking to stop using the property for commercial purposes and restore the building to its original position.
Tahilani wrote back to AMC in October explaining how he obtained BU permission after reconstruction three years ago. It was only for a short time after the lockdown that the small portion of the premises was used as an office where ceramic articles were also showcased. ‘WFH doesn’t mean setting up shop at home’
Ahmedabad Municipal commissioner Mukesh Kumar said the merits of the case would have to be examined. “Usually, WFH does not mean that you can set up a shop at in your house. WFH means having a personal workstation, a few files and a corner room to yourself. AMC does entertain applications for converting part of residential properties for commercial use, but then there is a procedure.”
“We receive applications from citizens for converting part of the residence for commercial use for requirements under Shops and Establishment Act or for obtaining professional tax certificates. But when people don’t reveal that part of their properties are used for commercial purpose we have to go by the book. At present AMC does not have any tax exemption policy WFH policies,” says a senior AMC tax official.
AMC did not respond to Tahilani’s representation, and he went to civil court. The AMC has not responded to the court’s notice and the court thus stayed any AMC action pending reply.