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Cantt civilians resent no ownership rights

Civilians in the Cantonment area of the town are a harassed lot. They have no ownership rights to the land they have built their houses on and octroi is still imposed in the area.

punjab Updated: Sep 13, 2013 01:07 IST
Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar

Civilians in the Cantonment area of the town are a harassed lot. They have no ownership rights to the land they have built their houses on and octroi is still imposed in the area.

More than 45,000 civilians in the area are upset that their pleas on the issue have been ignored.

The property in cantonment area, either residential or commercial, sells at premium, due to the way the area is administered by the army. Sewerage system is missing, but Rs 13 crore have recently been sanctioned for the wok and tenders have been invited.

In 1995, under the New Land Area Act, applications were sought from the Cantonment residents to apply for free-hold rights, while depositing 1/3 of the land cost as per Standard Table Rate (STR) along with required documents to the Cantonment Authorities. The 400-odd applicants are awaiting approval.

In case of repair or renovation of the house/shop, it is a like war situation for the landlord, as any truck, vehicle etc entering the area is forced to pay octroi.

Even though Punjab government had abolished octroi in the State years ago but passing through the Ferozepur cantonment without paying the same invite fine, as the administration of the area falls under the Cantonment Board presided over by the army.

The major sufferers are illiterate truck drivers coming into the cantonment, who often refuse to pay octroi on the presumption that it had been abolished across the state.

G Vijay Bhaskar, Cantonment Executive Officer of Cantonment Board, Ferozepur (CBF) said that those who are ready to deposit the entire amount as per the STR face no hindrance to have free-hold rights of the property.

In general, people don't have Holding Occupancy Rights (HoR) and to award free-hold right without HoR is not in the provision of law, he added and claimed that to repair or renovate in the plinth area, landlord needed to submit an application with the required HOR papers.

The imposition of octroi in the cantonment is mandatory under article 1924 of the Cantonment act, he claimed "The Central government must abolish the octroi. It must also fund the employees' salaries and development works. Then we will not levy any octroi," he added.

Bhaskar also acknowledged the economic loss to the business community and civilians living in the area due to abolition of octroi in the rest of the state. However, he claimed that the business and traders were compensated as they did not charge any VAT as in the municipal areas.