Already groping in dark to come up with some concrete measures to recover pending arrears of house tax from defaulters under jurisdiction of the municipal corporation (MC), the authorities concerned are constrained by political and internal pressures withholding them from acting stringently against the defaulters.
Notwithstanding the repeated notices, Defaulters seem to impervious to the repeated notices slapped by the MC officials for past many years arguably owing to political safeguard.
Even attachment notices sent by the MC's house tax collection branch to the defaulters failed to bear any fruit, as only few defaulters responded to the notice.
According to information, the MC had to recover around Rs 1.5 crore from private business houses, residents, and small and large-scale traders; whereas, at least 10 government offices reportedly owed around Rs 3.5 crore for over a decade to the civic body.
The defaulters were served notices under Section 138 of the Municipal Corporation Act; entails, attaching defaulters' moveable and immovable property and to put it to auction.
“Defaulters have been warned several times, but each time either a political leader or a councillor concerned comes to their rescue,” said one of the senior administrative officers with MC.
“Many a times, defaulters refused to receive notices, asking MC officials to speak to councillor of their ward regarding the tax. If political leaders stop interfering in our work, pending payments can be recovered in easier and shorter period of time,” the official said.
However, house tax has been abolished with implementation of property tax.
Admitting political constraints as one of the reasons for delay in recovery process, Patiala mayor Amarinder Bajaj said collecting pending amounts was the right of the civic body, which could not do away with.
“We will start sealing process, as defaulters failed to respond to the property attachment notices. We are waiting for Diwali to be over. The sealing property of private defaulters should be carried out at any cost, as the civic body had given umpteen number of chances to them to pay their taxes,” Bajaj said.
Bajaj added that the MC would write to respective head quarters of government officess, which were declared defaulters due to non payment of taxes.
Pending house tax
Private defaulters: Rs 1.5 crore
Government offices: Rs 3.5 crore
Defaulter government offices
Government Rajindera Medical College and hospital (GRMCH) - Rs 29.85 lakh
Devigarh divisional engineer of telecom Rs 5.80 lakh
Zila parishad office Rs .04 lakh
Sub division office, Devigarh division 4.06,
Executive Engineer Bhakhra Main line Rs 1.24 lakh
District forest range office Rs 73,222
Tehsildar office Rs 23,224.
Private Maharani club Rs 79.98 lakh