If the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cannot provide pothole-free roads to Mumbai’s taxpayers, it should not collect street tax from them, asserted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In the last three years, the BMC collected Rs 1,058 crore as street tax, which makes up for a certain component of the property tax paid by Mumbaikars. The street tax is an archaic form of tax in existence since the Britishers started levying it to build good roads, maintain them and improve their condition from time to time.
Dilip Patel, BJP leader in the BMC, pointed out that the civic body didn’t have the right to collect tax if it failed to fulfil the needs of its citizens. “If the BMC is making so much money through street tax then it should also provide smooth roads to motorists.” He wrote to the chairman of the civic standing committee to take up the issue during the meeting scheduled on Wednesday
There are about 14,22,812 properties and all of these pay 15 per cent of the property’s ratable value as street tax. After Octroi, property tax is BMC’s second largest source of income. In 2012-13, the BMC collected Rs 3,657 crore as property tax while this year (2013-14) it expects to make about Rs 3,956 crore, which includes street tax.
However, Rahul Shewale, chairman of the standing committee, seemed displeased with the suggestion. He said, “It is not acceptable. Street tax collection is just Rs 200-300 crore and we spend at least Rs 1,500 crore on improving the roads. The BMC has planned a road improvisation programme which will start after the monsoon.”
Some citizen federations supported the BJP’s suggestion. “If the BMC feels that Rs 200-300 crore worth of street tax is a small amount, then why doesn’t it scrap the same?” said GR Vora, member of the citizens’ federation from Matunga.
This year the BMC expects to amass about Rs 550 crore as street tax.
Vora suggested that the civic body can think of penalising contractors who have failed to do their work or are responsible for the bad roads, and increase public participation in quality control.