UMC asst chief Yuvraj Badane at the civic headquarters. File pic
It's a pity when a rotten apple disrupts a well-oiled organisation. That's the problem the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC) seems to be facing currently.
The civic body that has left no stone unturned in recovering taxes, particularly property tax, from citizens and defaulters, coming up with innovative campaigns for the same, has initiated an inquiry after coming across an instance of misuse of power by one of its employees.
Authorities found out that a tax inspector had collected a mere R10 lakh under property tax from a wine shop owner, as opposed to the total dues of Rs 70 lakh, by showing his store area as much less than what it was.
The fraud within
Bhagwati Wines in Shriram Chowk, Ulhasnagar IV, occupies an area of around 8,000 sqm. However, those in-charge of collecting the tax showed the area as 400 sqm.
The shop is in a ground-plus-two-storey building, wholly owned by the wine store owner. The liquor outlet is on the ground floor, while the owner has rented out the first and second floors to a garment outlet.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner and head of the tax collection department Yuvraj Badane had visited the place and put up a notice declaring that the owner needed to pay Rs 70 lakh property tax.
After that, Badane went on leave and tax inspector D L Magar was tasked with recovering the amount. He allegedly forged documents and showed a tax of Rs 10 lakh.
A senior civic official said, "Rs 10 lakh is the shop's property tax for a year. It hasn't paid for the past six years; that makes it Rs 60 lakh, taking the total amount to Rs 70 lakh."
When Badane returned and noticed the discrepancy, he sent a notice to Magar, seeking an explanation. Magar replied that he had been under pressure from UMC employee Dada Patil and RPI corporator Bhagwan Bhalerao to do the billing in that manner.
Badane said, "We have sent a notice and investigation is on."
UMC commissioner Rajendra Nimbalkar has sent a notice to Bhalerao. "Our own employee said he was working under pressure of the corporator; so, I had to ask for an explanation. We will probe the case thoroughly. I can speak further on this only after eight days as by then I will get a clear picture of the goings-on," he said.
The wine shop owner, Pritam Kukreja, however, has called this harassment, claiming that the authorities had carried out measurements of the shop and followed the law. "They sent us a bill for Rs 10 lakh; we paid. This is harassment... they are trying to cheat us. Why should we pay more? It's not the right amount for a shop this size," he added.
Rs 70 lakh
Total property tax due from the wine shop owner
Rs 10 lakh
Total tax collected
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