In the wake of several complaints about undervaluation of immovable property transactions, the state government has formed a committee of revenue experts to review the criteria for determining circle rates (the minimum valuation at which a property can be registered) that are usually fixed by deputy commissioners. The panel, which was set up two days ago following instructions by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, has been given a fortnight to submit its report.
"The committee will decide whether the criteria for fixing circle rates are appropriate. There were demands from various quarters for a relook at the rates," a senior revenue department official told this reporter. The panel will also seek suggestions public representatives as well from elected functionaries of 'panchayati raj' institutions.
Currently circle rates in the state vary according to the distance of the property from roads, with those for land located between 25 to 100 metres from national highways higher than those for land situated next to state highways. Circle rates for district and village roads are based on similar criteria. The rates are revised periodically and increased by a minimum of 10% every year. The state public works department is bearing the brunt of high circle rates since it has to shell out more money for land acquisition. In many areas landowners are paying high circle rates for registration of their property. The government acquires land for various projects based on the average of circle rates.
Earlier, when circle rates were not determined, land registration was being done on the basis of average rates issued by revenue officials. Now the government has decided to do away with the registration and compensation average rate and asked deputy commissioners to fix circle rates every year.
From land acquisition to registration, all property transactions in the state are conducted on the basis of circle rates. Since the registration process went online revenue officials occasionally have to face recovery in case of audit objections due to discrepancy in circle rates.