MC backtracks on sops to servicemen

  • Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 27, 2014 10:51 IST

The municipal corporation (MC) of Chandigarh has not only gone back on its words, but also insulted the general House that approved the agenda of exempting defence personnel from house and property tax.

Call it callousness or indifferent attitude of the MC towards 12,000 families of defence personnel settled in the city as despite approving the agenda in its House meeting in December, now in a letter to the UT administration, it expressed its inability.

In a recent letter to the secretary, local government department, the MC’s tax branch has stated that there is no provision to exempt defence personnel (serving or retired and their families) from the payment of house and property tax on residential lands and buildings. Besides the recurring financial loss, if the recommendations of MC House are accepted, it will hit the tax collection on commercial, industrial, institutional lands and buildings as for the time being, the property tax on residential lands and buildings is being assessed and collected under the provisions of existing tax bylaws.

The tax branch also mentioned in the letter that it was wrong on part of the then mayor to have directly placed the agenda in the House without consulting them.The mayor is empowered to introduce any resolution.

On the other hand, it was former defence minister Sharad Pawar, who had written letters to all chief ministers and UT administrators asking them to exempt defence personnel from paying house and property tax. Interestingly, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal had already exempted defence personnel from this tax.

Nominated councillor Major (retd) DS Sandhu said, “It was unfortunate on part of the MC officials that despite approval of House, they opposed the resolution. This is an insult to the House. We all know that there is no provision in the MC Act for exemption, but when it has been approved in the House, the MC should amend the Act after taking approval from the UT administration.”

In the House meeting on Thursday, Sandhu lashed out at the bureaucracy for opposing the rights of defence personnel and resolution of the general House.

He requested the House to cancel the letter and write a fresh one, demanding amendment in the Act and exemption from tax. Though MC commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh did not reply on the issue in the House, slammed Sandhu for crossing his limits.

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