The Punjab local bodies department has started the process of exempting industry, hotels and hospitals coming up within municipal limits from paying change-of-land-use (CLU) charges.
The decision is significant because a minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken it without taking into confidence the dominant partner in the state’s ruling coalition (the Shiromani Akali Dal), long accused of not giving the BJP a free hand. “I am competent to take the decision, as my department has the prerogative,” Joshi said here on Tuesday, adding that this was to save the government further embarrassment in the Vidhan Sabha debates. “I will update the government later,” he said.
The CLU fee is 5% of the collector’s rate of the land (about Rs. 1 crore for an acre). Sources said Joshi was under pressure from the business community to take this decision. The state government will be informed by official notification only when the election code of conduct for the upcoming assembly byelections in Patiala and Talwandi Sabo gets over on August 25.
Joshi confirmed that on the demand of the business houses, his department was in the process of finalising the policy for relief to the urban population.
In the assembly, independent legislator Balwinder Singh Bains had sought this policy for Ludhiana, saying that some parts of the city was in the municipal limits for the past 50 years but change of land use was required there to build industry and other commercial establishments.
EDC on residential, group housing to be rationalised. The department has also decided to rationalise external development charges (EDC) and processing fee on group housing schemes and other residential property in the municipal limits across Punjab.It would reduce the EDC to 50% (charged by the housing department) in areas outside the limits. The fee on petrol-filling stations, marriage palaces, and multiplexes would also be rationalised.
deadline to be extended: Joshi
The department of local bodies has also decided to extend the deadline for regularising illegal colonies and houses. The March 14 deadline has long expired. Minister Anil Joshi said his department had proposed to the government to give house owners one more year, while the SAD was willing to give only three months.