Who will bell the cat? The saying defines the situation of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.
As per an RTI reply, dated March 19, 2014 — a copy with Newsline — the civic body has stated, “MC has not given any permission for the advertisements displayed outside shopping malls in Ludhiana.”
It also states that “no tax is being taken from these advertisement owners”.
While the MC has admitted that it is not earning a single penny from ads displayed on buildings of malls in the city, Lead Ads Private Limited, which is currently in possession of the majority of ads outside malls, is owned by the relatives of Public Works Development Minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon.
The company which has signed a contract with some of city malls has five directors and all are from Dhillon’s family. They are Simranjit Singh Dhillon, the minister’s son, his wife Sanareet Dhillon, Shavinder Singh Sandhu (Sanareet’s brother), Shavinder’s sister-in-law Harpreet Kaur and distant relative Pawandeep Kaur.
While the company has displayed advertisements outside the leading malls, including Westend Mall and MBD Mall on Ferozepur road, they have not paid any tax to the MC, neither MC has ever asked for it.
Talking to Newsline, director Simranjit Singh Dhillon said, “We never got any notice from MC to pay any such tax. The day notice comes, we will pay the tax.”
However, the company allegedly also has its clients’ ads displayed at railway stations, petrol pumps and other commercial sites but has not paid any tax. Shavinder Sandhu, another director, said, “We are ready to pay the tax but MC has never asked for it. We have submitted our case to MC. It’s true no tax has been paid from our side but we were never asked by the MC.”
He added, “Our company has legal contracts with malls for displaying ads to which MC never objected.”
The MC now finds itself in a fix as it failed to recover tax amount from the company.
Additional MC Commissioner Isha Kalia said, “I have already given orders to remove ads from railway station. It is allowed to put ads on commercial buildings like malls but tax has to be paid. We are yet to get the proposal passed from F&CC committee and then tax amount will be recovered from them.”
As per sources, MC has suffered losses of a minimum of Rs 50 crore per year by not recovering tax from companies displaying ads on buildings of malls.