Despite repeated insistence from the central and state governments, the Dehradun municipal corporation (DMC) has failed to put into use the Geographical Information System — a satellite-based technology for mapping properties in the state capital. In the absence of the GIS, the civic body has been using the old, sluggish manual method of surveying properties, leading to unnecessary delay in accurate assessment and imposition of property tax.
All this, when adopting the GIS is a mandatory reform under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) scheme of the central government. The satellite technology was used in Dehradun in ward Hathibarkala on a pilot basis, but things never moved beyond the pilot phase. The GIS is also an important recommendation of the 13th Finance Commission of India and the 3rd Finance Commission of Uttarakhand. Unlike the long-drawn process of manual surveying, the use of satellite technology for mapping buildings is far lesser time-consuming and offers accurate. database about properties, both residential and non-residential. Once the aerial survey is conducted, the data is used to generate a unique property identification number, radically reducing time, resources and efforts involved in the manual process. Currently, the DMC conducts surveys of properties without making the use of any technological advancement, resulting in an inordinately lengthy procedure.
“If the GIS is instituted for mapping properties, it will not only broaden the tax base extensively but will also bring the leftover properties in the tax net. We would have imposed the long-pending house tax a long time ago in the city had the GIS been used for surveying the residential buildings,” a source in the DMC said.
Notably, property tax accounts for around 85% of the total tax revenue for the DMC. However, in the absence of proper mapping of properties through the satellite system, the property tax collection for the civic body has remained quite poor over the years. It is worth mentioning that the municipal corporations of cities like Hyderabad, Kanpur, Delhi and Bangalore have already adopted the GIS mechanism and expanded their property tax base significantly through it. When contacted, Dehradun city mayor Vinod Chamoli admitted that there has been virtually no progress about implementation of GIS in the state capital.
“The GIS was used on a pilot basis in Hathibarkala. Some errors were discovered at the time, so I directed the DMC administration to ensure elimination of those defects and then use the system for the entire city. However, nothing much has progressed on that front till now due to official neglect,” the mayor told HT.