Faced with tremendous pressure from the UT administration, the municipal corporation of Chandigarh after five years is planning to impose house tax on 8-marla (200 square yard) and above houses in the city. There are around 35,000 houses, which come under this category.
Councillors have been evading the issue from the past five years to protect their vote-bank.
Speaking to HT, the house tax committee chairman Sat Parkash Aggarwal said, "Before imposing the tax, we will discuss the matter with local MP and union minister for parliamentary affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal. Also, we have proposed to impose tax on 8-marla houses and above, as we do not want to put extra burden on people residing in colonies and below 8-marla houses."
The MC officials are studying the house tax imposition in other cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and will submit their report by May 15.
"Since Punjab is also set to impose house tax and we follow the Punjab pattern, we will also study how the state government is going ahead in this regard," Aggarwal said.
Vice-chairman of the house tax committee MP Kohli said, "We will be imposing house tax on 8-marla and above houses and will not burden the poor in the city. It is very unfortunate that the MC has failed to recover property tax amounting Rs 10 crore last year, despite giving many advertisements in the media. We have asked officials to get a survey done from an agency about the number of commercial buildings, schools and other establishments."
Since last year a number of commercial buildings have not been paying the tax, he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has, however, stated clearly that they will oppose the imposition of house tax tooth and nail and will also hold a protest.
BJP councillor Devesh Moudgil said, "The Congress is trying its level best to impose house tax, but we will not allow this to happen and will oppose any such proposal."
Chandigarh has surplus funds and there is no need to impose house tax, said another BJP councillor, Saurabh Joshi. "Residents have not really benefited from the central government schemes. Even at places where pipelines for treated water have been laid, the supply is not sufficient. Till the residents are satisfied with the projects, there is no question of more taxes being imposed," he added.
The UT administration had directed the MC to impose house tax, failing which a huge amount of central funds for several projects will not be provided to the corporation.
In several letters to the MC, the administration had stated that house tax should be imposed under Section 19 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976.
It added that house tax would generate more revenue for the MC departments and the latter would not have to depend on grants sanctioned by the administration. In 2007, the municipal corporation had signed a memorandum of understanding with the union ministry of urban development under the Jawaharlal National Urban Renewal Mission and said it will impose house tax to raise funds.