Pune: Citizens Groups Oppose 11% Hike In Property Tax By PMC

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Sumit Singh
Pune, January 13, 2021: In the new financial year 2021-22, Puneites may have to pay more 11 percent on their property tax. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has tabled a proposal to increase the property tax at the standing committee meeting held on Tuesday. It will be discussed at a special meeting of the standing committee scheduled on January 29 – when the PMC budget for the new year will be discussed.

PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar presented the proposal of the property tax hike to the standing committee. According to the proposed property tax, PMC’s income is likely to increase by Rs 130 crore, claims Kumar.

The total increase is proposed to be 5.5 per cent in general tax, 3.5 per cent in sanitation tax and 2 per cent in drainage rate. Also, the civic administration expects an income of Rs. 110 crore from 23 new villages included in the PMC limits. Therefore, it is estimated that a total income of Rs 2,164 crore will be earned from Property tax by the end of next year.

However, the proposed hike is already getting resistance from various citizens groups.

Vivek Velankar, president, Sajag Nagarik Manch, said, “Pune Municipal Corporation has proposed an 11% hike in property tax to increase its revenue. Citizens who pay regular taxes honestly will have to bear this burden, but on the other hand, Abhay Yojana is implementing 75% discount for those who have dues pending for years. In the last 3 months, PMC has collected Rs 370 crores tax after giving a discount of Rs 170 crores to persons who had pending dues over Rs 50 lakh.

Apart from this, efforts are not being made to recover Rs 1218 crore from 474 arrears of above Rs 1 crore, out of which Rs 53 crore is due from Irrigation Department and Rs 50 crore is due to other government / semi-government departments. The water bill is in arrears of around Rs 400 crore. Instead of recovering arrears of thousands of crores of rupees, raising taxes of Rs 130 crore on honest regular taxpayers is like punishing honest taxpayers and giving protection and relief to those who do not pay the taxes on time.”

In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, PMC and the corporators, Nagrik Chetna Manch’s secretary Qaneez Sukhrani has listed why it is a ‘bad decision’ by PMC.

The letter states, “The Proposal by Commissioner had no logical rationale to increase property tax by 11% in the budget for 2021-22 with break-up as 5% under general, 3.5% cleaning tax, 2% water appears to be made without an impact assessment. This is in addition to a 5% yearly increase for 24×7 water pipeline project which has been crawling since past 4 years.

With this increase, PMC administration says budget income will increase by Rs 2400 crores which will help cope with the development of 23 newly merged villages. It goes without saying that any funds for the development of merged villages must come from the State Govt, and not let citizens be burdened with this.

The Standing Committee which takes financial decisions could not decide, so the proposal has been sent to the General Body for a discussion at a special meeting. It is hoped that GB realizes that it is an election year and rejects this proposal outright as it is an election year.

In 2020-21, this proposal to hike taxes was rejected by the GB and it must do the same for 2021-22.

Currently, PMC currently charges for services it is not rendering, which is in direct contravention of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Right to Life Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Infringement of the fundamental right under Art 21, a citizen can demand compensation apart from seeking the enforcement of the right according to the final order in a PIL no. 71 of 2013 taken up suo moto by Bombay High Court.

Ever since COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns kicked in March 2020, PMC’ GB has made a multitude of bad decisions viz. income vs. expenditure forgetting that year 2021 will be a run-up to Corporation elections in Feb 2022.

Citizens are plagued with false promises every election year and those elected have no concept of the delay in service given or not given

1) Inequitable and short supply and distribution of water to different parts of Pune City even though it is the most valuable resource
2) Mismanagement of Municipal Waste Management which leads to filth, garbage & health hazards in all aspects

3) Delay implementation of Hawker’s policy and re-location of hawkers which results in illegal occupation of footpaths, cycle tracks, kerbs and side margins of roads, streets. Loss of revenue viz. rents and penalties from the proposed scheme would increase PMC’s income

4) Patchwork done in different types of poor quality material & technique that does not integrate with one another and results in abysmal condition of roads, streets, footpaths and cycle tracks which leads to accidents & fatalities

5) No curb on encroachments and illegal structures which belies the law of the land
6) Doling out Amnesty and waiver of property tax in comparison to budget income target figures.
7) No mechanism in place to recover money dues on rent of leased PMC properties
8) Parking Policy which would get income for PMC and decrease indiscriminate parking on public spaces not yet implemented
10) PMC needs to increase building development charges from builders/developers to balance unsustainable growth

11) PMC needs to convert lands it owns on arterial roads for multi-modal parking bays which will earn revenue from commercial vehicles such as luxury coaches, radio taxi cabs, trucks, tempos, etc which park free of charge currently apart from decreasing public road space.

12) Spate of high-cost civic infra projects without any sustainable basis. Constructing infra projects and then demolishing portions is a great malady, such as BRTS

13) Irresponsible expenditure on wasteful items to boost the egos of local nagarsevaks

14) Appointment of consultants at high fees for projects is a waste where planning can be done in-house by PMC as it only requires upgraded skill, logic and management techniques.

Listed above are aspects where PMC can to earn revenue & control expenditure without burdening the ordinary tax payer on a yearly basis.

Above are the basic amenities that any citizen gets without asking in any global city. And PMC loses opportunities to recover public funds as per approved budget figures. Hence, PMC has no moral right to make it mandatory for citizens to pay 11% more on property tax, considering this is an election year. Any irresponsible decision by the Standing Committee & General Body members will impact the political party’s results. The citizen is not interested in assurances that never materialize or projects that carry on endlessly.

The citizen will base his or her judgment on the past & present ground reality record of PMC, which is abysmal.
In the context of constitutional provisions, reasonable conditions are embraced in the citizens’ right to life. The principles enshrined in Art 21 are to improve the quality of life of every citizen, make his or her life more meaningful, and not merely be an existence for which there is no alternative.

We therefore earnestly request you to reject this proposal so that citizens who have lost their livelihood, homes are not burdened with an increase in taxes.

Further, it is suggested that PMC should do a thorough audit & introspection on the areas it is falling short in providing basic minimal service to citizens. And citizens would not object to paying the increase in taxes.”

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