Hardly had the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) initiated an inquiry into allegations that Sharda Shelar,wife of the civic anti-encroachment department chief Ramesh Shelar,owns 13 flats at Saraswati Apartment in Warje-Malwadi,civic officials have stumbled upon two mobile towers on its roof. No tax has been paid for the towers.
Sharada Shelar owning 13 flats had come to light last week when she deposited property tax of Rs 6.11 lakh with PMC. The tax was deposited after it was revealed that PMC had not assessed the property tax of the flats in the building since 2003.
Finally tax was paid for all 13 flats and a parking lot being used for commercial purposes. After it came to light that the office in the parking lot was an encroachment,the civic administration issued a notice to the encroachers on Monday. The encroachment was removed by evening.
Now,it has come to light that there has been no payment of tax for the mobile towers on the roof. We have no registration of mobile towers installed on Saraswati Apartment. We have not received any property tax for the towers. The department would serve a notice on the property owner and begin assessment of tax for the mobile towers, said Hemant Nikam,PMC Property Tax Assessment and Collection officer.
Asked whether the mobile towers were erected with PMC permission,Additional City Engineer Vivek Kharwadkar said,We are appointing an agency to survey mobile towers in the city. The legality of the towers would be ascertained only after the survey. I will speak about it later.
Speaking about the probe,Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak on Monday said,I have directed the vigilance department to carry out an inquiry by getting inputs from property tax department,building permission department and human resource department. The legality of the building will be verified by the building permission department while the property tax department will furnish information about the ownership of the property and payment of taxes by the owner. The human resource department will give information about property declaration by the officer.
Pathak has backed the officer. There does not seem to be any irregularity, he said. If there is any violation,relevant steps would be taken based on the investigation report.
Pathak admitted that the delay in payment of property tax for the apartment led to financial loss for the civic body. The property tax paid by Shelar was as an occupant and not an owner as the properties are owned by relatives. The encroachment was not done by him but by the person who took the place on rent, he said.
When pointed out that two mobile towers existed on the building but no tax has been paid,Pathak said,These are not the only mobile towers not registered with PMC. There are many such towers in the city. We have started a survey and would initiate appropriate action.
The building was constructed by (Shelars) relatives as they are into real estate. There is no harm in that and relatives of many civic officers are in the real estate business, Pathak added.