In the wake of the protests over its decision to hike property tax and user charges, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has decided to withdraw it. On January 30, Surat Municipal Commissioner M. Thennarasan had announced draft budget of Rs 5,378 crore for 2018-19 financial year with a hike in property charges and user charges of Rs 530 crore.
However, the decision met fierce opposition from the Congress, which demanded complete roll back of the property tax hike. A couple of days ago, Congress councillors banged the entry gate and damaged SMC properties, while the standing committee meeting was underway to discuss the draft budget. The meeting was finally cancelled and over 20 Congress councilors were detained by the police.
Sensing the outrage, the state BJP leaders called Surat civic body and instructed them to not hike the taxes. On Thursday, the standing committee announced that the Rs 530 crore-hike in the property taxes and user charges has now been slashed to around Rs 103 crore.
With such cut in the property taxes, the administrative body has now decided to drop several development projects like laying gardens in five zones, building of a railway over-bridge at Bhestan worth Rs 46 crore, setting up of three auditoriums in the city.
“The Surat Municipal Commission spends Rs 1,351 crore on salaries of the employees and other allowances and Rs 1,200 crore is spent for operation and maintenance of different projects. We have decided to not disturb the above two expenditure. From the hike of Rs 530 crores in property tax and user charges, we have cut Rs 430 crores. We have dropped those development projects, which were not so much important and can be carried out later,” Standing Committee chairman Rajesh Desai said.