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Rs 43.5 million house tax notice served on Anand Bhavan, Swaraj Bhavan, Jawahar planetarium

By Farhan A Siddiqui, Prayagraj
UPDATED ON NOV 18, 2019 12:07 AM IST

The Prayagraj Municipal Corporation (PMC) has served a notice regarding allegedly pending house tax worth over Rs 4.35 crore (Rs 43.5 million) on Anand Bhavan, Swaraj Bhavan and Jawahar Planetarium run by Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, a charitable trust headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The step was taken on the ground that Anand Bhavan and the adjoining buildings were being used for commercial purposes, according to the notice, which was served with increased house tax rates.

PK Mishra, chief tax assessment officer, Prayagraj Municipal Corporation, said, “Around two weeks (ago), we had sent a house tax notice on Anand Bhavan, Swaraj Bhavan and Jawahar Planetarium. In reply, we have received a letter from the administrative secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund N Balakrishnan in Delhi. The letter has been forwarded to the Zonal Office (four) with instructions to carry out a detailed survey and submit a report regarding the total pending dues. Further decision would be taken after receiving the report.”

Denying the claims of the municipal corporation, the Fund authorities in Delhi have sent a letter to the mayor and the officials concerned to review the tax as Anand Bhavan and the adjoining complex are heritage buildings and exempted from commercial tax.

Mayor Abhilasha Gupta ‘Nandi’ said a letter had been received from Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in New Delhi with a request to review the house tax levied on Anand Bhavan and the adjoining complexes.

The related files and documents will now be studied before taking further steps in this direction, the mayor further said.

Municipal corporation officials said Anand Bhavan and related buildings had been surveyed as commercial properties.

In a letter sent to the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation on November 8, N Balakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund secretary in Delhi, said a bill of Rs 3,000 was received by the trust in 2003-04, which was duly paid.

However, in 2005, a bill of over Rs 24.67 lakh for the year 2004-05 was sent to the Fund, according to the letter.

The yearly bill of Rs 12.34 lakh continued to be sent till 2013-14 but it was reduced to Rs 8.27 lakh since 2014-15, the letter added.

N Balakrishnan further said Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund was a charitable trust and not involved in any commercial activities. The trust was exempted from such taxes under Section 117B of Nagar Nigam Act 1959, he claimed in the letter. The house tax was increased though no new constructions were done since the last four decades in the premises, he said in the same letter. The calculation of house tax was not done properly and even the vacant land was included, N Balakrishnan complained.

“The Prayagraj Municipal Corporation has sent a bill of several crore despite the fact that the issue is pending in court. Further action would be taken after receiving instructions from the senior authorities of the trust (fund) in Delhi,” said Ravi Kiran, the Prayagraj head of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.

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