In a major crackdown on property tax defaulters, the Phagwara municipal corporation (MC) has sealed 93 properties in the past two months.
Moreover, 17,153 notices have been issued to the defaulters and action will be initiated against them if they fail to respond, the civic body said.
On Tuesday, the MC sealed 16 shops, falling in three markets, against whom Rs 9 lakh tax was pending. As per information, there are a total of 46,849 properties, including residential and commercial, within the Phagwara municipal limits.
The MC has collected only Rs 2.82 crore against the target of `3.40 crore till March 31.
The civic body is yet to collect the pending arrears of two years as residents paid Rs 2.66 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 1.01 crore in 2014-15 against the target of Rs 3.5 crore each.
Sources said even the local bodies department had offered 10 per cent rebate and interest waiver on pending taxes in the past months but the MC received a tepid response from the residents to this also.
Phagwara additional deputy commissioner (ADC)-cum-MC commissioner Iqbal Singh Sandhu said, “We have issued several notices and warnings to residents in the past months but they failed to respond to notices, thus forcing us to take a strict action. The pending property tax would be collected before March-end as now many residents are coming to deposit their tax.”
He said the target of Rs 3.50 crore is fixed on the basis of total residential and commercial properties in the city.
As per the norms, 16 newly added villages in municipal limits, houses up to 5 marlas and some newly developed colonies are exempted from paying property tax for three years.
“The budget will be revised in the next session and target will be brought down,” Sandhu said.
The MC has also been facing tough time in collecting the pending house tax arrears to the tune of Rs 97.13 lakh for 1,768 properties, which was pending before April 2013. As after March 31, 2013, the house tax had been renamed as property tax.
A warning notice has again been issued to these defaulters.
Procedure not followed: Residents
Annoyed over the MC’s action, residents claimed that they had not received any preliminary warning notice or information before the civic body sealed their properties.
Surinder Mittal, whose property was seized on Tuesday, had filed a complaint with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Phagwara MC commissioner against sealing o without giving him any prior notice.
He said as per the local bodies department guidelines, a notice is required to be served on the landlord as well as the occupant of the property before any penal action and sealing it.
“I will move the Punjab and Haryana high court if the state government or the local bodies department do not take appropriate action soon,” Mittal further said.
Mayor Arun Khosla said the municipal corporation followed the proper process and also served the notices on owners before initiating action.