Tax on animals and even bullock carts! Incredulous as it may sound, the local panchayats are being egged on to do exactly that, among other things, in a bid to bridge the ever-mounting deficit between their annual income and expenditure.
Not surprisingly, the move is facing resistance from the panchayats, especially the smaller ones, over fears of their popularity taking a hit among the villagers. “No one likes to pay taxes, especially the farmer whose agriculture income is also tax-free. Imposing taxes would take away our voters,” a sarpanch, who did not wish to be identified, said.
Despite being empowered to do so under the Madhya Pradesh Panchayat Raj Adhiniyam, panchayats have done little to impose taxes on villagers - the traditional belief being the villagers are poor and will not be able to pay like in urban areas.
That, however, hasn’t deterred growing demands and expectations of the villagers. “Now, villagers want facilities like roads, water, drainage, etc, but all these things cost money. So, they are being urged to generate revenue through taxes,” said district panchayat superintendent Antim Dubey.
At a recent workshop to inform sarpanchs about their powers and highlight ways in which they could raise resources through taxation, district panchayat officials suggested imposing property tax on buildings and schools, water tax, lighting tax, drainage tax, trading tax and even tax on bullock carts, cycles, rickshaws, etc. The workshop was also addressed by collector P Narahari, who said sarpanchs should learn how municipalities use taxes to raise money.
District panchayat president Kavita Patidar agrees that there is resistance to pay taxes from some quarters, but added that counselling would help sensitize the sarpanchs. “We have noticed that some of the smaller panchayats in the interiors are not keen on the idea of paying taxes, but the panchayats that are near cities like Indore, such as Gawli Palasia, Tillore or Kodariya near Mhow town, are already raising resources through taxes and people there are not resisting,” she said.