Rentals from mobile towers are definitely a good source of revenue generation for housing societies which also helps reduce maintenance collections. However, stung by the mounting tax arrears owed by mobile tower operators, the Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has now geared up to bring housing societies into the property tax bracket. Even as the legally installed mobile towers generate an annual revenue of Rs 5 crore, the unauthorised ones which have been set up on the residential and commercial buildings have deprived the civic body of funds amounting to Rs 20 crores.
As per rough estimates, the number of towers in the twin-city is pegged at 506. Unconfirmed reports, however, claim the figure is much higher. “While a survey is being conducted to identify all mobile towers, we are awaiting legal opinion following which show cause notices under the relevant sections of the BMPC Act to recover tax dues will be issuedi n housing societies which have installed mobile towers in their premises,” said Vijay Mhasal, Deputy Municipal Commissioner.
“Such a move will further burden tax payers,” feared a resident. Slack norms for granting permits and ongoing court cases have been providing the operating companies with almost a free ride for the past couple of years. Most of the companies have moved the judiciary seeking deemed permissions restraining the civic body from carrying out any type of coercive action. Permission for tower erection is deemed to have been given if the application was not disposed of within a stipulated timeframe. Moreover telecom operators have been contending that mobile towers are placed on rooftops or terraces of buildings which are already assessed for property tax. Interestingly the revenue department has already slapped notices to land owners for commercially exploiting their properties by erecting mobile towers without paying non-agricultural tax.