In the name of providing you with good and smooth roads, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has collected around Rs 1,900 crore as street tax in the past five year. The civic body plans to collect around Rs 530 crore in this financial year alone.
This tax is a component of the property tax that citizens pay to the civic body every year, which is calculated on the basis of the rental value of the property.
Street tax is officially 15% of the rateable value of a property.
As per the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, the civic body can collect street tax for “construction, maintenance and improvement of streets”.
Figures accessed by Hindustan Times show that the tax amount has increased every year. From collecting Rs216.42 crore in 2005-06, it collected Rs366.49 crore in 2009-10.
Sources said though the exact amount for 2010-2011 was yet to be calculated, it would be more than Rs400 crore.
Incidentally, street tax is the only form of tax directly collected for city’s roads. The rest of the money spent on roads is drawn from other income sources that the city has.
As part of its campaign, HT had earlier reported how the civic body had spent about Rs5,000 crore in the past five years only on roads.
Additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota, who is in-charge of the civic body’s finances, said, “Street tax forms a part of the budget for the road department. But its expenditure is completely left to the discretion of the department.”
However, activists are up in arms after learning about the figure. Matunga-based activist Nikhil Desai, who has frequently complained about roads in his locality, felt that the figure was ridiculous.
“The fact that they [the BMC] are collecting so much money from our pocket obviously doesn’t show on our roads. Also, for about two years, the BMC had stopped building any new roads in the city citing paucity of funds. But I want to know what did it do with the street tax that was collected?” he asked
According to road officials, the city’s 1,941km of roads needed more funds.
“The roads are in a bad condition and this is not because we haven’t spent enough money. Mumbai’s roads have inherent problems due to constant utility digging and lack of supervision among other things. We need more funds to maintain and repair roads,” said a senior civic official, requesting anonymity.
Part of road collapses in Girgaum
Mumbai: Just a fortnight after the Dharavi culvert bridge collapsed, a portion of Jagannath Shankar Sheth in Girgaum near Gaiwadi caved in on Monday night leaving a 12ft deep cavity. Leakage from the sewage lien running below the road caused the portion to give away.
The portion of the road has been barricaded for repair work.
“We believe that a sewage line running beneath the road may have been damaged, which lead to the collapse,” said assistant municipal commissioner Parag Masurkar, adding that the work of repairing the road would be undertaken in the night.
According to civic officials, the pipeline must have been leaking for a while, which loosened the soil beneath the road.
Civic officials admitted that this problem was persistent in the city since it is surrounded by sea. Also, the utilities are over 80 years old.
They also said that the civic body had no technique to check the condition of the underground utilities to curb such incidents.
Utilities such as water mains, storm water drains, sewer lines run below the road. Corrosion or cracks in any of these can result in leakages, which further result in the soil around the area to loosen and erode thus forming a cavity.
Over 20 roads cave-ins have happened taken place in the city in the past three years.