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Netting small fish while big ones swim free?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
By Steffy Thevar

In recent times the BMC has been acting against small time property tax defaulters whereas big corporate houses are being left scot-free. Yesterday the BMC sealed six properties and de-sealed  four over property tax

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is cracking down on those defaulting on property tax and also releasing others who have paid their property tax. The civic body had sealed ten properties across the city and then de-sealed four  of them after they paid their taxes.

These six include four properties in F South, one each in R Central and T ward. The total pending property tax of these six properties is Rs 17 crores and 61 lakhs. However by doing this, BMC is taking action against small time property defaulters whereas there is no action against big corporate names.

Yesterday The Afternoon D&C mentioned that about Rs 601 crore is yet to be recovered from top 100 undisputed property tax defaulters. This compiled list features data from defaulters since 2010. However now the civic body is rushing towards the small fish and leaving the big fish to swim free. Despite the fact that this is the undisputed property tax which corporate companies owe the BMC, it seems the civic body has given them a leeway.

The sealed properties include two plots in Dadar-naigaon road, one plot in Jerbai Wadia road, one in Kidwai road also two commercial properties, one each in Borivali west and Mulund west as informed by the Municipal Corporation's Collector and Assistant Commissioner, Devidas Kshirsagar. Since the past few months the BMC has been coming down heavily on small time property tax defaulters.

In the first week of March, 'seal' action was taken on seven properties for delaying property tax of Rs 28 crore. After this, action was taken to seal six more properties. The property holders/property owners have defaulted on taxes worth Rs17.61 crore, 61 thousand 66 thousand 790.

Apart from these six properties, four more properties were also 'sealed'. However, they were desealed due to the payment of property tax amounting to Rs 1 crore 22 lakh 85 thousand 482. This includes a building under the redevelopment of three  properties (plots) in 'R-central' and F South ward.

The six sealed properties are located in the F-South ward on the Dadar-Naigaon road and includes two plots owned by Bombay Dyeing. On this, the property tax of Rs 8 crore 54 lakh 80 thousand 9 64 and Rs 4 crore 45 lakh 26 thousand 449 is pending.

In the same ward on Jerbai Wadia Road, 'G. M. Group Creator' Property tax worth Rs 1.44 crore 68 thousand 612 is taxable on the land under their ownership was delayed. Also a plot which was undergoing construction on Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road by Mayur Builders, in the same ward was sealed due to the property tax worth 6 lakh 35 thousand 161 was defaulted.

Gokul Shopping Centre (Ghanshyam Construction) on Swami Vivekanand Road in Borivali area of R-Central ward was sealed due to tax evasion amounting to Rs 90 lakh 21 thousand 913. Also in the 'T' ward, in the Swapnagiri area on Mul Rajeshwar road in Mulund west, two main doors of a commercial building owned by Aristo developers were sealed for the recovery of tax worth Rs 2 crore 24 lakh 33 thousand 691.

Although as per BMC's protocol for collecting property taxes, the property holders are supposed to pay the tax within 90 days of receiving the property tax bill. If failed to do so, first of all, municipal authorities will follow up with direct contact and interaction and follow up action to get the bills paid.  Participant action is initiated on those who do not pay property taxes within 90 days. If the payment is not paid then 'demand letter' will be sent. In the next phase, the last 21 days of last notice is given to the asset holder. In the subsequent stages, the property is sealed; After this, action is taken to disconnect water connection if the property is of commercial nature. In the final stage, property attachment is taken.

Despite such guidelines, the BMC has failed to take action against those undisputed property taxes worth thousands of crores which have been pending for the past 11 years.

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