Failure to assess SRA buildings in Andheri West, costs civic body losses worth Rs 15 crore each year
The BMC coffers are bearing the cost of its officials' failure to assess redevelopment of buildings by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), resulting in a yearly loss of at least Rs 15 crore in property taxes.
The civic body's response to a Right to Information (RTI) application has revealed that at least 30 such buildings in Andheri (W) alone have not yielded any property tax to the BMC since their construction in 2014 and 2015. The RTI was filed by activist Sayed Haider Imam, from the NGO Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan.
"As per our calculations, on the basis of capital value, each of these buildings could yield R50 lakh to R60 lakh of revenue per year for the BMC," he said. This comes up to a minimum of R15 crore, he said. He further alleged that civic officials neglect to assess these properties in exchange for kickbacks from the builders. "I have been following up on this issue for the last three years, but nothing has happened," he alleged.
"From June, octroi will be abolished and the civic body's financial stability will be at risk. The tax recovery from such buildings could prove a boon for the BMC," said Imam.
Octroi is currently the biggest source of revenue for the Corporation, yielding about R7,000 crore every year. After octroi, property tax is the second largest source of income, generating about R4,000 crore per annum. However, Imam's RTI probe indicates that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and the civic body could be missing out on considerable revenue if there are more such unassessed buildings across the city.
Responding to the allegations, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of K-West ward, Prashant Gaikwad, said, "I got the complaint letter from the NGO about the property tax issue. I have forwarded it to the department concerned and directed them to submit a reply within seven days."
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