No merger till HSG projects make pending tax payments: Villages
Grampanchayats of Nanded and Sadesataranali villages claim projects like Nanded City and Amanora have evaded taxes for two years and arrears now run into crores of rupees, say merger with city will make things worse as property tax will then be payable to PMC
Elected members from the grampanchayat of two villages have made it clear that unless big housing projects that have come up in their jurisdiction pay taxes owed to them, they won’t merge with PMC. They are claiming that housing projects like Nanded City, Nanded Village, and Amanora special township project, Sadesataranali, have been evading taxes since the last two years, and the arrears runs into crores of rupees.
“We want our dues to be cleared, and only then we will take a call on the merger with PMC. The housing projects were built after receiving sanction from the district collector, but the grampanchayats have no means to recover taxes,” said Shobha Abhyankar, woman sarpanch, Nanded village. “Over 1,000 people reside at Nanded City on 700 acres of our land.
The project has already completed two years, and we haven’t got a single paisa as a tax. But, if we merge with the PMC, they will pay taxes to the civic body, and therefore we are against the merger,” Abhyankar added. A P Gawde, grampanchayat officer, Nanded village, said, “Grampanchayat computes tax on the basis of the size of the project and total number of housing or business establishments. As per our calculations, the amount owed would be approximately Rs 4 crore per year, and so far we have not received anything from the Nanded City project. Instead, we are loosing revenue.”
Abhyankar said, “Till date, we only received Rs 3 crore from Nanded City project towards land purchase revenue stamp duty. They haven’t even made their stand clear why they are not paying the property tax or grampanchayat tax, which should be paid every year, nor have they replied to our letters or queries. The distressing part is that these project offices do not even entertain our grampanchayat officials when we communicate with them.”
Roopesh Tupe, deputy sarpanch of Sadesataranali village in Hadapsar, said, “We are yet to recover Rs 9 crore dues from Amanora Park Township City, which is located on 450 acres of land in the village jurisdiction. The unpaid dues have hampered several developmental works. Earlier, we also issued a notice to the Mall owned by the Amanora for non-payment of grampanchayat taxes.
The Rural Development ministry, however, intervened and the issue is still pending. Even a one day hunger strike at the Mall yielded no results” Joining the chorus against the tax evasion, Vijay Kumbhar, president, Surajya Sangharsha Samiti, an NGO, said, “This is a wrong practice to avoid tax to the concerned grampanchayats. No mega housing projects or special townships are special entities and there is no provision of any tax exemption to them.
These projects are already at an advantage due to government sops, and if they still don’t want to pay the tax, it is unethical. The grampanchayat should approach the court in this matter.” Maj Gen SCN Jatar, president, Nagri Chetana Manch, an NGO, said, “There is no respect for the law at any level. Evading taxes is wrong and the government should take proper action.”
Vikas Deshmukh, Pune district collector, said, “Though we have permitted construction of these housing projects and special townships, the Grampanchayat tax (or property tax in rural area) is applicable as per the Grampanchayat Act. The special townships have argued for tax exemptions only because of the housing in special category. We have now put forward the issue to the State Urban Development Department that is headed by the C M Prithviraj Chavan. We are expecting a result soon.”
The other side
Managing Director, Nanded City, said, “It is wrong to say that there was no interaction with the Nanded grampanchayat. I am doing my work by taking everyone in confidence. As a developer we have a responsibility to maintain and operate a township by making provision of water supply, roads, sewerage treatment and other required infrastructural developments to these mega housing projects. We are not putting any such infrastructural pressure on these grampanchayats. We had already paid one per cent refund from the Stamp Duty to the grampanchyat. A special committee formed by the government on the issue will take a decision soon on whether to pay tax or not. We are bound to do as per their directives.”
Managing Director, Amanora Special Township, said, “As per the Supreme Court, the word ‘tax’, it can be recovered if you are providing a service. We are not taking anything from the grampanchyat, including water, water treatment plant, garbage disposal system and sewerage treatment plant. As per the special township policy, an urban local body could be formed in the township. Incidentally, the government had put a stay on the issue of paying taxes to the grampanchayats in such a situation. A three-member committee has been formed, and they will take a decision. We will certainly follow the directives provided by the committee. If the committee asks to pay taxes, we shall do it.”
20,000 plus Nanded Population
Rs 15-20 Lakh Land cost per guntha
Rs 2,500-3,000 Construction cost