UT finance secretary Sarvjit Singh will chair a high-level committee formed to look into the issue of reducing the misuse charges levied for violation of building bylaws in the city. Administrator Shivraj Patil has formed the committee, which will make recommendations to reduce misuse charges at the earliest after consulting stakeholders. Sources said the proposed rate would be sent to ministry of home affairs (MHA) for approval.
On September 23, the Punjab and Haryana HC issued a notice to the Chandigarh administration for imposing the misuse penalty, at what traders claim to be a very steep rate, of `500 per square foot per month for violations with retrospective effect.
The rate is applicable to both commercial and residential buildings, even though the violator is issued is notices and given time to comply. If this is not done, the building is resumed.
On a possible preview on what the committee could suggest, the readers should know that the finance secretary had previously proposed a rate of `7 per square feet per day, putting the penalty at `210 per square feet per month.
Rates hiked 50-fold seven years ago
The estate office has issued around 1,500 notices to the tune of several crore of rupees to traders in different sectors. In 2007, the administration enhanced misuse charges from `10 per square feet to `500 per square foot with the enforcement of the Chandigarh Estate Rules, 2007. The Punjab and Haryana high court, on October 8, 2012, observed that the administration was not eligible to impose misuse penalty without making changes in the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952, and getting it approved from Parliament.
Trade bodies such as the Industries Association of Chandigarh (IAC) and Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM) submitted representations with the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and the PMO demanding downward revision. Last year, the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs of MHA directed the administration to reduce the charges at the earliest. In spite of repeated attempts, UT finance secretary Sarvjit Singh was not available for comments.