A week after her election as new city mayor, Congress councillor Poonam Sharma is mulling the revision of house tax, even as the municipal corporation House, in its meeting in October last year, had rejected the proposal.
Significantly, UT administrator Shivraj Patil had met the mayor last week, where the mayor was reportedly asked to revise the house tax rates. She added the issue would be placed in the coming House meeting for the final approval.
“We will talk to all residents and market welfare associations, councillors and will place the issue in the coming House meeting,” the mayor told HT.
The mayor’s inclination to again take up the issue assumes significance as in a meeting on the issue last year, councillors had quoted from the Punjab Municipal Act (as extended to UT Chandigarh) to back their decision. The relevant sections quoted were Sections 90 (1) (2) (3) (4) and 5, 91 9 1), 93, 96, 97 (1).
“Even as the administration threatened us and tried to force us to increase the house tax 10-fold, the Act clearly says that we have no power to revise rates,” the councillors had said in unanimously.
So, even as the mayor is making her intentions clear, BJP councillor Arun Sood said that it had been the hidden agenda of the Congress to impose such taxes.
“It is surprising that before the mayoral elections, the Congress opposed the imposition of house tax and now after becoming the mayor, she was talking of reviewing it. We will not allow this injustice,” he said.
The UT administration had written a letter to the MC, directing it to impose house tax on the pattern of property tax, which is 10 times more than what is being paid at the moment. It would increase from Rs 1 per square yard to Rs 10 per square yard, but the House rejected it.
Not to be smooth going
Congressmen might be euphoric that their party swept the mayoral elections, but there does not seem to be smooth sailing in store for the newly-elected mayor. The opposition BJP young brigade in the MC is likely to corner the mayor over the alleged failure of his predecessor and party colleague Harphool Chander Kalyan on sanitation and water supply issues as well as various pending projects, when the House meets sometime later this month.
Of its 13 councillors in the MC, the BJP has five young lawyers practicing in Punjab and Haryana high court and the district courts here. Most BJP councillors are more qualified than Congress members.