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LMC?s dilemma: VIPs or boss?

india Updated: Sep 14, 2006 00:13 IST
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WHY HAVEN’T you slapped commercial tax on the buildings having rooftop hoardings when the orders were issued about six months ago? “Just do it within a month or face the music,” the LMC boss shot off angry letters to all the zonal heads, demanding immediate action.

But, does the boss know that a majority of such building owners belongs to the VVIP category?

And that’s what is keeping the officials from reassessing their tax as per commercial rates. However, the boss’ deadline order has scared them more.

“Many buildings belong to bureaucrats, politicians, trader leaders and ministers.

How can we go against their wishes?” asked an official on condition of anonymity. But, the LMC boss maintains that the officials’ laxity is making them lose Rs 5 lakh per annum on 600 houses.

Here is how the LMC is losing the money. People have to pay 15 per cent of the annual rental value (ARV) as house tax.

A house having a rooftop hoarding pays 15 per cent of Rs 12,000 ARV as simple residential tax (that’s about Rs 1,800).

But, after commercial reassessment, the amount becomes around Rs 15000.
In a bid to crackdown on rooftop hoardings, the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) had earlier decided to slap commercial tax on such houses.

Sources say non-VIPs coming under the commercial tax bracket offered Lucknow Municipal Corporation officials a lucrative proposition to earn money under the table.

And that’s why they delayed such conversions regarding the non-VIPs.

As per a survey, there are 316 rooftop hoardings in the city. Out of which 120 are in the trans-Gomti areas and 196 in other localities.

There are nearly 310 houses having towers on their roofs. Most of these identified buildings are situated in the VVIP areas of Hazratganj, Park Road, Nishatganj, Mahanagar, Indira Nagar, Gomti Nagar, Aliganj and Lalbagh.

Additional municipal commissioner AC Sinha says: “Only four out of nearly 600 such houses have been assessed during last six months. We already have the list of buildings having rooftop hoardings and towers. The slow progress in tax assessment is not excusable.”

The owners of these buildings earn between Rs 30,000 and Rs 1 lakh per month. But,  they hardly share it with the LMC, said Sinha.