The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is currently engaged in a bit of firefighting as sparks fly over its decision to levy a ‘fire service fee’ that will be recovered from residents with retrospective effect from Dec 2008. In fact, the corporation is already charging a four per cent ‘fire tax’, as part of the general assessment tax. This provision exists since 1936.
The proposal hasn’t yet got the nod of BMC’s standing committee. Rahul Shewale, chairman of the committee, however, said that the new fire service fee is being imposed as per the state government’s instructions. “We can not annul the new tax, but we will consider effacing the old fire tariff from the general tax,” he said. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena has opposed the move of imposing this double tax system. Yashodhar Phanse, Sena leader in BMC said, “It is not fair to impose two separate taxes in the name of fire. We will resist the move in the standing committee meeting.”
HN Mujawar, chief fire officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade was not available for comment. “The new fire service fee will be made compulsory under the new Maharashtra Fire Protection and Safety Act. That can not be compared with the fire tax as the latest rule will be applicable all over the state,” said SS Shinde, joint municipal commissioner (Fire Brigade).
The rate of the new tax will vary from building to building and will be calculated on the basis of area, age and nature of a structure — the taller the building, the higher the fee. The maximum tax will be collected from commercial buildings like five-star hotels, commercial centres etc. The new tariff will be charged while providing commencement certificates for construction and reconstruction of every building. “The amount collected will be used for maintaining the equipment of the fire brigade,” Shinde justified.
Adding fuel to the fire
Proposed rates for the new fire service fee are as follows
>> Existing residential buildings: Building below 15 metres in height (three storied): Rs 5 per sq m
High-rise above 45 metres in height (14 storied): Rs 15 per sq m
>> New residential buildings: Buildings below 15 metres in height (three storied): Rs 15 per sq m
High-rise above 45 metres in height (14 storied): Rs 45 per sq m
>> Existing hotels: One-star hotel, below 15 metres in height: Rs 15 per sq m
Five-star hotel, above 30 metres in height: Rs 50 per sq m
>> New hotels: One-star hotel below 15 metres in height: Rs 45 per sq metre
Five-star hotel above 30 metres in height: Rs 150 per sq m
>> Existing educational institution buildings: Below 15 metres: Rs 5 per sq m
Above 15 metres: Rs 10 per sq m
>> New educational institution buildings: Below 15 metres: Rs 15 per sq m
Above 15 metres: Rs 30 per sq m
>> Existing commercial buildings: Below 15 metres: Rs 5 per sq m
Above 30 metres: Rs15 per sq m
>> New commercial buildings: Below 15 metres: Rs 15 per sq m
Above 30 metres: Rs 45 per sq m