The Chandigarh Administration and political parties are heading for a stand-off as despite attempts of officials to persuade elected representatives to impose house tax and increase water tariff, both Congress and BJP councillors have shied away from putting these items on the agenda of the General House meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
The administration is pressing the fact that without the imposition of house tax and revision of water tariff, it would be difficult for Chandigarh to make it to top 20 cities of the Central government’s smart city mission. It is also likely that in case the MC does not take these decisions, the administration might impose house tax on its own.
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Sources confirmed that Mayor Poonam Sharma did not sign any agenda seeking to impose house tax and water tariff hike. However, the issue of water tariff hike might be taken up by the MC officials in the discussion on amended water bylaws which is likely to be tabled for approval.
An agenda item seeking resolution of the house in declaring its intent for the Central government’s smart city mission can also open a debate on house tax.
However, Congress councillor Subhash Chawla told Newsline that if these two issues were brought up by MC officials in any form in the house meet on Wednesday, the party was going to oppose it strongly. The BJP’s Arun Sood, too, said that the party would discuss its pros and cons before giving its consent.
The administration has been pushing the MC for increasing revenue generation. Adviser to Administrator Vijay Kumar Dev has repeatedly said in the past few days that without imposing house tax and revised water tariff, it was difficult for Chandigarh to get selected in top 20 cities of the Central government’s smart city mission.
Secretary (Local Bodies) Anurag Agarwal said that the city’s selection in stage 1 of the smart city scheme would not be much of an issue. The first stage is basically an intra-state competition, in which cities in the state would compete with each other on the conditions and the scoring criteria laid out. Since Chandigarh is the only city nominated from UTs, it would easily enter stage 2.
“In the second stage, however, each of the 100 final names will submit its city-specific proposal, containing proposed smart facilities and related revenue generation model for the participation in ‘city challenge competition’ that will finally select top 20 cities. This is the stage where administration will find it difficult to prepare a development strategy for smart city in case MC’s revenue generation is stagnant,” he said.
In case, Agarwal added, the MC House fails to take a call on augmenting its financial resources, the administration has the power to enforce new taxes.
Dev told Newsline that the administration would decide in a day or two the necessary action in case there was no consensus on house tax or water tariff hike in the General House meeting.