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PCMC budget: Tax on old properties to go up by 250%, water takes a backseat, no new project

“This year, we want to focus more on timely completion of the projects that are already being implemented. We don’t want to keep the projects pending for long,” said Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune | February 18, 2020 3:55:10 am
PCMC budget, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal corportation, Shravan Hardikar, Pune news, maharashtra news, indian express news PCMC chief Shravan Hardikar (right) presents the draft budget proposals to Standing Committee chief Vilas Madigeri on Monday. (Express photo)

Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar Monday presented the draft budget proposals for 2020-21, which envisages a 250 per cent increase in property tax on old properties but makes no provision for new development projects. The proposed budget indicates that while realty sector is down across Maharashtra, it is booming in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Presenting the draft budget proposals of Rs 6,627.99 crore, including central and state government schemes worth Rs 1,395 crore, in the Standing Committee at PCMC headquarters on Monday, Hardikar said the budget laid more focus on completion of the existing development work rather than initiating new projects. “This year, we want to focus more on timely completion of the projects that are already being implemented. We don’t want to keep the projects pending for long,” he said.

Standing Committee Chairman Vilas Madigeri said members will get 10 days to study the proposals after which discussions will be held. The meeting was adjourned till February 27. Committee members said the budget was seeking massive hike in property tax which was not acceptable to them.

At a press conference after presenting the highlights of the budget, Hardikar said he was trying to rationalise the property tax structure.

“There is a vast difference between property tax levied on new buildings and old buildings. Therefore, we have tried to rationalise the property tax structure. This will mean old properties will have to pay more tax,” he said.

Hardikar said if an old property owner today pays Rs 5,000, his annual bill will go up beyond Rs 12,000. “The old property owner will pay two-and-a-half times more that what they are paying today. This is because new property owners pay much more than the old property owners. The value of old property does not diminish. It goes on increasing, yet the owners pay less property tax,” he said, adding that the hike will help PCMC net Rs 100-150 crore annually.

The civic chief said the tax hike proposals will be placed before the civic general body meeting. “If the GB does not approve it, I will invoke my special powers and bring the property tax hike into effect from April 1,” he said. “The city has 5.25 lakh properties… Since 2013-14, there has been no tax hike. Therefore, we will increase the rates as per the ready reckoner,” he said. The civic chief said the hike will be applicable to properties built before 2007. “We will also launch a drive to identify tax defaulters and properties that have not been registered so far,” he said. Opposition leader Nana Kate said they will oppose any bid to hike the property tax.

The PCMC chief said the civic body has raked in Rs 670 crore in this fiscal through building permission fee. “Three years back when I joined, the civic body had earned around Rs 250 crore through building permission fees. It has now gone up to Rs 670 crore. This means that while realty sector is down in other cities of Maharashtra, it is booming in Pimpri-Chinchwad,” he said.

Hardikar said he has made a provision of Rs 244 crore for buying new electric buses and CNG buses for PMPML. “I believe that we need to improve our public transport system… Metro services, BRTS, ring road plan will help in easing the traffic chaos in our city. A multi-modal public transport system will go a long way in easing the pressure on roads,” he said.

Even though Pimpri-Chinchwad had witnessed multiple protests and demonstrations over the civic administration’s inability to provide every day water supply, the proposed draft budget did not lay much emphasis on plans to improve the water supply system. Making a provision of Rs 217 for water supply system, the civic chief said his administration plans to augment the capacity of Ravet weir and the filtration plant at Nigdi. Hardikar added that the PCMC was eyeing an early completion of Bhama Askhed and Andhra dam work, which will provide 267 MLD water to Pimpri-Chinchwad.

He said the civic administration will have to float Rs 400 crore in bonds to raise money for funding water projects. Hardikar said PCMC needed Rs 600 crore to fund various water projects. “But we get only Rs 75 crore revenue from water tax. We have already proposed water tax hike and expect Rs 150 crore revenue from it. The short fall of over Rs 400 crore will have to be raised through bonds,” he said.

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