If you have a dog or a cat or a donkey or a buffalo, you may soon have to pay a tax.
The Delhi government has approved amendments to two municipal acts which would make a dog or a cat-owner liable to pay Rs 500 annually (for each cat or dog he/she keeps at home). The decision was taken earlier this week, though it was not made public as the government feared an outcry. Official sources said both the Bills would be passed in the Budget session of the Delhi Assembly in March and implemented soon after.
The tax on pets is quite a novel step. Presently, even registration of dogs or cats is not compulsory, though the municipality expects the owners to keep a record of all vaccinations.
The bills also provide for a Rs 2,500-tax for each buffalo kept for milking and Rs 2,000 for each cow. Each animal used for pulling carts would now cost the owner a steep Rs 1,000 per annum. “These animals were never taxed earlier,” said a Delhi government official.
There is more. Every four-wheeled vehicle drawn by a draught animal would be charged Rs 2,000 annually while a two-wheeled one would be charged Rs 1,000 per annum.
The Bill does not give any reasons for this taxation. “These have not been revised since 1957 when the DMC Act was enacted. As a result, there is considerable erosion in the value of money and ever burgeoning cost of services rendered over time,” said the Bill.
Officials said that the tonga, a popular means of transport in the Walled City, would be seriously hit if its owner has to cough up Rs 1,000 as tax. Moreover, many dhobis still use donkeys and a tax of Rs 500 on each may act as a big spoiler.
Pet-owners are astounded by this plan. “I keep a dog, feed him, nurture him, spend money on him. How does the government come into the scene, asking for money?” says Ashish Tiwari, a resident of Patparganj, who owns two dogs.
“The government should then also offer some incentives. For instance, if a dog is vaccinated, let the owner get a tax rebate,” said Geeta Seshamani, head of Frendicoes SECA, an NGO.