The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has many corporate big guns waiting for their Octroi refund claims. For the past two years, the Octroi Refund Dalals Association (ORDA) is running from pillar to post to get the money back for its 10,000 large and small clients, which include firms like the Airport Authority of India, the National Sock Exchange, L&T, Bajaj, LG, Samsung, Sony, Finolex, Castrol India, Aditya Birla, Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata, Hindustan Unilever, Godrej and so forth.
But the municipal authority’s Octroi department has not budged to repay them their dues collectively amounting to Rs 500 crore. When any company transports goods or materials from the Mumbai Port Trust or elsewhere within Mumbai jurisdiction, the BMC levies a 2-7% Octroi duty. If the goods are not for use in Mumbai, the amount is refundable. But the BMC has not refunded these dues to the companies, which are claiming that their 1,30,000 applications are pending with its Octroi department. Besides, with each month, some 5,000-7,000 claims are being piled on to the existing claims.
On behalf of the firm, the ORDA held a series of meetings with and shot letters (copies with MiD DAY) to the authorities concerned but nothing’s yet come of it. The firms themselves have written (copies with MiD DAY) to the BMC requesting the release of dues but have been continually hitting a wall. “We had a series of meetings and correspondence with the BMC Octroi department. The officials are giving petty reasons for not acting. On several occasions, they intimidated us and told us to get out of their office. It’s hopeless,” said Parmanandbhai Thakkar, ORDA president.
The association members are not convinced with the excuses the civic officials are offering. Some of them alleged off the record that they suspected some officials of having used up the money. “There needs to be an inquiry into this,” said a member. He then went on to point out the fraud unearthed two years ago. In December 2011, the BMC had suspended 38 Octroi naka supervisors and inspectors involved in making false claims of refunds. They filed fake forms and used bogus licence plates to claim additional refunds. The fraud was estimated at Rs 1 crore.
Firms the BMC has to pay back
Airport Authority of India (western region)
Mahindra and Mahindra
Crompton Greaves Ltd
Madras Cement Ltd
JSW Cement Ltd
Murli Industries Ltd
The other side
The BMC officials had no specific reason to justify their prolonged inaction and spouted banalities. “This is not true. We are issuing dues. Actually, we are operating manually. Also, our Octroi office at Shivaji Market had to be closed down and now we have been shifted to Kanjurmarg. The 50 computers we have are not working and we are installing new ones.
Now, after two months of all this, we will be working full swing,” said Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner. Other reasons cited for the delay in the dues included: “We don’t have enough staff;” “We’re facing hardware and software problems and the software consultant has been busy,” and “The account department is not cooperating with us.”
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