Res­i­dents see no logic in prop­erty taxes

Against the back­drop of poor civic fa­cil­i­ties across illegal colonies of east Delhi, res­i­dents refuse to pay prop­erty tax

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Rozelle Laha

Sharply re­act­ing to East Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion’s ( EDMC) re­cent move to col­lect prop­erty tax from unau­tho­rised colonies of east Delhi, the res­i­dents want to know how the tax money will be utilised for main­te­nance of civic ser­vices in the area.

“If the gov­ern­ment asks us t to pay prop­erty tax, we would have no op­tion but to pay up. It is not that we were not pay­ing it ear­lier, but the ser­vices here h have never been up to the mark. The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment had also promised sewer, wa­ter and elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions to ev­ery h house­hold and made the pay­ment of prop­erty tax op­tional, just be­fore the elec­tions. In fact, e even the now the rul­ing party in Delhi (Aam Aadmi Party) had promised these fa­cil­i­ties dur­ing their elec­tion cam­paigns. How­ever, now even though the new party is in place we have not got the promised fa­cil­i­ties and the prop­erty tax, ear­lier waived off, is be­ing im­posed again,” says Salahud­din An­sari, gen­eral sec­re­tary, Rani Gar­den RWA, Geeta Colony. “Dam­aged, over­flow­ing drains are ma­jor is­sues here. Mu­nic­i­pal work­ers rarely come to clean this area, some­times once in 15 or 20 days. Then the the main road, not the ones in the in­te­rior, are cleaned. When asked why, they say they have short­age of staff and that ded­i­cated staff will be in place once our colony is au­tho­rised, ” adds An­sari.

Prop­erty tax is col­lected from res­i­dents to main­tain ba­sic civic ser­vices like wa­ter, sewer, roads and drains across dif­fer­ent parts of the city. But as per a let­ter dated March 14, 2013, the depart­ment of ur­ban de­vel­op­ment un­der the Delhi gov­ern­ment had di­rected the com­mis­sioner of EDMC, to levy prop­erty tax on own­ers only “from the date of ap­proval of the lay­out plan of the colony by MCD.” HT Es­tates is in pos­ses­sion of a copy of the let­ter.

How­ever, against the fact that the ap­proval of sev­eral colonies is pend­ing in east Delhi, the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion has de­cided to re­sume charg­ing prop­erty taxes from prop­erty own­ers de­spite the poor in­fras­truc­tural fa­cil­i­ties there. Lata Gupta, chair­man of the stand­ing com­mit­tee, jus­ti­fies the move, say­ing, “Sec­tion 114 of DMC Act al­lows us to col­lect prop­erty tax from the owner of any con­structed build­ings or land,”

Res­i­dents of ille gal colonies of east Delhi told this cor­re­spon­dent that they were not aware of the pro­vi­sion of op­tional pay­ment of prop­erty tax. “We have not re­ceived any cir­cu­lar say­ing that pay­ing tax is op­tional, so we con­tin­ued to pay the tax. De­spite that, how­ever, the mu­nic­i­pal work­ers rarely come to clean the in­te­rior lanes and peo­ple liv­ing there have to go to the vans to dump their garbage. There are no sewer con­nec­tions. Dam­aged roads, drains and over­flow­ing sew­ers with wa­ter-log­ging dur­ing the rainy sea­son adds to our woes. Such un­hy­gienic con­di­tions can in no way jus­tify the prop­erty tax im­posed on us,” says a res­i­dent of D block, West Vinod Na­gar.

Echo­ing con­cerns of res­i­dents of unau­tho­rised colonies of east Delhi, BS Vohra, pres­i­dent of East Delhi RWAs Joint Front, says” Tech­ni­cally, if the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion re­ally wants to charge prop­erty tax from res­i­dents of unau­tho­rised colonies, they first should reg­u­larise these colonies, give them ac­cess to the ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties and then ask for prop­erty tax.”

How­ever, in an­swer to all these per­sist­ing is­sues raised d by res­i­dents, Gupta says, “All ll our Na­gar Nigam colonies s un­der EDMC clean the roads s and drains on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. s. There are street lights in­stalled d in all unau­tho­rised colonies for r which Na­gar Nigam has been pay­ing BSES. We have been do­ing ex­ten­sive re­pair­ing work of drainage sys­tems, roads and dam­aged roads ir­re­spec­tive of the ap­proval sta­tus of any colony. We have em­ployed work­ers for the up­keep of fa­cil­i­ties in all nooks and corners of east Delhi colonies.”

Some res­i­dents of east Delhi’s ’s illegal colony con­tin­ued to pay their prop­erty tax even when they knew that the same was waived off in 2013. “We were ad­vised by EDMC of­fi­cials to con­tinue pay­ing the house tax, so that in case there were is­sues in our colony, we could ask the mu­nic­i­pal author­i­ties to re­solve them as we were pay­ing taxes just like peo­ple in the au­tho­rised colonies. In re­turn, we have en­sured good sup­ply of wa­ter and elec­tric­ity and also have quite good sewer and road fa­cil­i­ties in our area,” says He­mant Gan­gia, sec­re­tary, Vikas Samiti, School Block, Shakarpur.

HT FILE PHOTOS

Swachh Bharat is still a dream for peo­ple re­sid­ing in unau­tho­rised colonies of east Delhi

There’s no one avail­able to clean up the garbage

Wa­ter­log­ging slows down res­i­dents’ lives dur­ing the rains Traf­fic is dis­rupted be­cause of garbage

dumped on roads

and cause flood­ing drains raise a stink Clogged and dam­aged

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