Lack of clear rules brings townships,gram panchayats at loggerheads

The lack of clear directives and ambiguity in the present laws have triggered a war of words between the special townships and the gram panchayats.

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune | Published: June 26, 2013 1:59:41 am

The lack of clear directives and ambiguity in the present laws have triggered a war of words between the special townships and the gram panchayats.

While gram panchayats claim the right to levy taxes on townships,the latter refuses to recognize the legal right of the local bodies to do so.

In the latest stand-off,Keshavnagar gram panchayat deputy sarpanch Rupesh Tupe had taken on Amonora Corporation for allegedly not paying taxes to the local body.

Tupe had taken the matter to the Block Development Officer of Haveli,who had fined the township.”The township has come up on the land falling under the gram panchayat and we are entitled to gather taxes from them,he said. However,the township refused to pay the taxes and appealed against the order to the Rural Development Ministry.

Another stand-off in the making is that between the gram panchayat of Hinjewadi and that of the special township there. Hinjewadi sarpanch Sagar Pakhre hinted at taking legal action against the Blue Ridge township.

“As a local body,we hold the right to levy and collect taxes on all constructions within our limits. Since the time the township has come up,they have not paid taxes,” he said. Pakhre stated that they have carried out correspondence with the township,but the latter refused to comply,stating that as they do not take any facilities from the local body,they are not liable to be taxed by them. He also hinted that the gram panchayat members would be resorting to road blockage and agitation if the township does not pay them legal taxes.

Citing the example of Hinjewadi IT Park and MIDC,Pakhre said that although both the bodies do not avail any facilities of the gram panchayat,they pay taxes to it.

The idea of the special townships,formed under the aegis of Special Townships Act ,2008,was mooted to avoid congestion and promote decentralized growth. As per the norms,the townships should be spread over 100 acres of land minimum and all facilities like water,sewage treatment and roads are to be provided by the builder.

Pune district,as of now,has seven such townships,and have come up on land that was previously under the taxation ambit of the gram panchayats.

Shrikant Paranjape,Chairman of Paranjape Schemes (Construction) Ltd stated that the townships pay taxes to the municipal corporations and so they do not pay taxes to the gram panchayat. “The law states that builders should create the infrastructure and carry out corporation work like sewage treatment plant,solid waste management and rain water harvesting (RWH) with contribution from the flat-buyers. So,paying tax to the gram panchayat again is unjust to those who purchase the flats,” he said.

Vice-president (sales and marketing) of Kolte Patil Developers Mahesh Saluja said: “There is no clear mention of tax payment in the township policy act. All infrastructure is developed and maintained by the developers at it’s own cost. The developers do not avail any facility or service of the gram panchayat. The township policy act states that developer is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure,provide public utility services,municipal facilities,electricity etc. The entire infrastructure,including roads,is developed and maintained by the developers at his own cost. So there is no mention or provision actually mentioned in the policy that builders need to pay gram panchayat any taxes.”

In order to take a concrete decision on the matter,the state government had formed a special committee of secretaries,whose decision is yet to come.

Avinash Patil,deputy director of town planning,stated that a policy decision is expected to resolve the issue within the next four or five months. “The laws give the gram panchayats the right to levy taxes and that way,their contention is valid. However,as the townships do not avail any facility from the local body,their contention of not being the gambit of their taxation is also valid,” he said.

J K Bhosale,chief operation officer of City Corporation Limited (Amanora),called for a quick decision on the part of the government to resolve the issue. “A quick decision would be beneficial to all parties involved,” he said.

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