While banks and the income tax department often take recourse to naming and shaming defaulters to force them to repay their borrowings, a small village in North Maharashtra is taking a similar route to recover property and water tax dues of Rs 36 lakh from the defaulters.
The Deola Nagar Panchayat has decided to put up the names of property tax defaulters at the major crossroads of the village and will also be sending a brass band to the house of each defaulter from Tuesday to force them to pay up.
Deola is a village abutting the Mumbai-Agra national highway located 240 km north of Mumbai. A taluka headquarter, Deola is also well known as a major trading centre for onions grown in the region. With a population of roughly 12,000, Deola’s small gram panchayat was upgraded to a nagar panchayat two years ago as population of the area swelled.
“We have been recently upgraded to being a nagar panchayat and we are striving hard to provide urban level amenities to our residents. Over the past few years, we have accumulated Rs 36 lakh in unpaid property tax dues and we thought it would make sense to recover this money, which can be ploughed into the development of this place,” said Chandrakant Bhosale, 28, Chief Officer of the Deola Nagar Panchayat who has decided to adopt the naming and shaming strategy.
The panchayat, which has an annual budget of Rs 6 crore, has been for the last few years requesting people to pay up, but without any success. Close to half a dozen boards naming the 100-odd defaulters have now been put up in various parts of Deola. The outstanding amounts range from a minimum of Rs 5,000 to a maximum of Rs 40,000.
The panchayat has told people to pay up before March 30 or face fines and snapping of their water connections. The panchayat has also threatened to bring along a brass band, which will play songs while the water connections are being cut.
This naming and shaming strategy has worked, with the panchayat recovering nearly 64 per cent of its dues already.
Once an individual pays up, his name is crossed out and covered on the board. “We have so far managed to recover nearly 64 per cent of our dues. It would however be nice to see all the people paying up because this money will go back into the development of this place,” said Bhosale.
He claimed that while the strategy had helped in recovering money it had also put off a lot of people. Bhosale said many people had threatened his workers to get their names stricken off the board.
While those who have been named are offended, the residents of Deola in general have supported the move. “We can expect good amenities in our town only when we pay our dues. I support the nagar panchayat’s initiative. There has to be some sort of punishment for people who default on their taxes,” said Sageer Shaikh, a trader and social activist in the village.
Nashik district, over the past few days, has seen several such naming and shaming strategies being used by local bodies to recover their outstanding dues.