City residents will have to pay the house tax, but there is some relief as the UT administration on Wednesday decided to give rebate of 25% (instead of 10%) for those who deposit the house tax in the first two months. However, it refused to revise the rate fixed in the notification issued on July 27.
As many as 24 councillors of all parties, led by mayor Poonam Sharma, on Wednesday met UT adviser Vijay Kumar Dev, demanding withdrawal of the notification. The councillors and the mayor were of the opinion that the imposition of house tax by the administration was an undemocratic step, which weakened the municipal corporation’s stature.
But, the adviser didn’t accept the demand for withdrawal of the notification and instead offered to give a rebate of 25% to people who deposit the tax in first two months. The UT adviser stated that levy was essential since generating funds locally was a prerequisite under the Centre’s ‘Smart City’ project.
Though BJP seems to have softened its stand on the house tax, the Congress, on the other hand, said “it is not acceptable and we will decide next course of action on Thursday”.
Speaking to HT, UT home secretary Anurag Aggarwal confirmed the rebate. “We also want to make the MC stronger. Councillors are elected representatives of the city and contribute immensely to the development of the city,” he said.
City-based lawyer Ajay Jagga, in his letter to UT home secretary has stated that objections should have been invited before the UT administration had issued the notification on the house tax as per the provision of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976.
BJP fine with house tax after rebate?
BJP councillor Arun Sood said, “We clearly told the administration that the manner in which the house tax was imposed is undemocratic. It has weakened the municipal corporation as imposition of house tax was the jurisdiction of MC.
The adviser, however, has given a rebate of 25% and even agreed to consider our representation. Now, the mayor has to give the representation.”
Two BJP councillors, Satish Kainth and Rajinder Kaur Rattu, thanked the UT adviser and home secretary for not imposing house tax in villages and colonies.
Congress questions silence of MP Kher, local BJP leaders
President of Chandigarh unit of the Congress Pardeep Chhabra has raised questions over the silence of city MP Kirron Kher and BJP city chief Sanjay Tandon on the issue of house tax. Chhabra said, “Silence was an indication that the administrator imposed the house tax with the clandestine support of the BJP leaders. Why the BJP leaders, including the local MP, were sitting quiet?”
He said had the local MP taken a stand against the tax in time the city residents could have been spared from the unnecessary burden.
Former mayor Subhash Chawla said, “One-time rebate is not acceptable. We requested the adviser to do away with the house tax, but he did not agree. Congress will decide next course of action on Thursday.”
Chawla claimed that the UT adviser was honest in accepting that councillors were not taken into confidence with regard to the house tax notification. “The adviser said it was purely the decision of UT administration to impose house tax,” Chawla said.