The government frames strict rules to ensure that the citizens follow them and help in smooth governance. However, such noble intentions often fail to yield the desired results. At times like these, innovative steps — one that emerge from out-of-the-box thinking — come in handy. One such initiative of PMC — to rope in bands to play outside the premises of defaulters of property tax — yielded unexpected results.
It was started in September last year to recover the property tax dues from defaulters as sending notices and taking legal action was proving futile. “The legal process is time consuming and the defaulters take advantage of it. The civic body which relies on the revenue collection can’t long for it. Therefore, the brass band was brought in and yielded excellent results,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Rajendra Jagtap.
The improvement in performance with regard to collecting the dues from defaulters increased manifold, he said. “Last year, PMC decided to spend Rs 25 lakh on brass bands hoping it would help recover at least Rs 25 crore. However, the PMC only spent Rs 17 lakh and managed to recover Rs 72 crore from defaulters.”
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If the PMC would have spent Rs 25 lakh, the collection would have crossed Rs 100 crore, Jagtap added. The experience has made the civic administration to once again take up the initiative this year. “We would soon relaunch the initiative for this year. The main idea is to make people fall in line and there is no harm to play band for the purpose,” he added.
The civic administration would set up four teams of brass bands to focus on each of the four zones of civic body. The defaulters would be first served notice to pay the dues and if they fail to do so then the team would reach the location and play the band outside the premise of owned by defaulter. They will also carry placards that would display that initiative is to recover the dues.
“It is the fear of getting a bad name in the surroundings that make the defaulters immediately pay the dues,” said a civic officer. The success of the initiative have caught the attention on other civic bodies as well.
Several other civic bodies in the state, including Pimpri-Chinchwad, Aurangabad, Jalgaon and Thane, contacted the PMC to know about the initiative so that it can be implemented in their place. The PCMC, in fact, implemented the plan.
After raking in Rs 12 crore, PCMC may ‘play it again’
After the PMC started implementing the brass band plan in Pune city, the PCMC quickly followed suit. For three months before the 2014 fiscal ended, the PCMC roped in a band to playoutside the houses property tax defaulters. The result — PCMC fetched a revenue of Rs 12-13 crore in the three months. “We decided to emulate the PMC’s move ,” said PCMC property tax head Bhanudas Gaikwad.
The band was played outside the houses or outside the company premises of the tax defaulters. It was even played when the tax defaulter was found at a particular spot. The plan paid off for PCMC.
“No tax payer opposed the band. In fact, the defaulters used to request our officials to stop the band and that they would immediately pay up,” said Gaikwad. Asked whether PCMC will again adopt the same strategy, Gaikwad said,”We haven’t yet planned anything…We might play it again.”