Due to decreasing revenue, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is reluctant to extend the discount in property tax in private properties to encourage residents to plant more trees. The civic body had introduced the discount to encourage residents to take up environmentally friendly projects.
NCP corporators Bhaiyyasaheb Jadhav and Yogesh Sasane had urged the civic body to give a 10 per cent discount in property tax and water bills for the owners planting and taking care of 100 trees in their private properties. The civic standing committee had sought the opinion of the civic administration on the proposal. The corporators had said that the discount in property tax would encourage residents to plant trees in their own properties and participate in the Clean Pune Green Pune programme of the civic body.
The legal department of the PMC said the tree plantation initiative comes under the environment-friendly and rainwater harvesting criteria initiative. “The PMC can give discounts for the properties implementing the programme of the plantation and taking care of trees after passing a resolution in the general body,” the department had said in a statement.
The PMC has been giving a discount on property tax for those implementing environmentally friendly initiatives like vermiculture, solar power panels and rainwater harvesting. The maximum of 10 per cent discount is given to properties implementing at least two of the three environment-friendly projects while 5 per cent discount is given for the implementation of any one project. The discount facility is implemented after approving the proposal every year.
But the civic accounts department said the facility is not in the interest of the civic body because the state government has cancelled the octroi and local body tax, which were important revenue sources for it.
“The civic body is now dependent on the funds from the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Property tax is the only important revenue source remaining. So it would be improper to implement the proposal of discount for property tax in PMC,” said Municipal Commissioner Saurabh Rao.
In a government resolution, the state government has allowed all its departments to spend 0.5 per cent of their total budget to plant trees in their respective areas. “The state government has undertaken a massive programme of tree plantation to increase the green cover. But there are limitations to the forest department for tree plantation due to the non-availability of vacant land, so the tree plantation has to be done in non-forest areas of the departments like school and higher education, irrigation, public works department, urban development department and agriculture department,” the government resolution stated.
The state government has allowed its various departments to spend 0.5 per cent of their total budget to implement the e-governance programme to digitise their operations and on the same lines, they are now allowed to spend 0.5 per cent of the budget to implement the tree plantation programme.