With the Bombay High Court on Wednesday rejecting the state government’s plea to regularise illegal structures, owners of as many as 65,000 illegal properties in the jurisdiction of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) now have no option but to pay the penalty they have been delaying in anticipation of regularisation of these structures.
In the last four years, the PCMC had estimated a collection Rs 250 crore in penalty from these 65,000 illegal properties, of which it has just received Rs 8 crore. Civic officials say Rs 250 crore means lot for the city and its development at a time when revenue sources are drying up.
All these 65,000 illegal properties have been registered after January 4, 2008, said PCMC’s assistant commissioner Bhanudas Gaikwad. “PCMC started imposing penalty tax from 2012. In four years, we have been able to collect just over Rs 8 crore since owners of most of these illegal properties have refused to pay up,” he said.
The penalty tax on illegal structures is slapped as per section 267 (A) of the Maharashtra Mahanagarpalika Act which has replaced the BPMC Act. Section 267 (A) says the penalty tax should be double the property tax. “It means if the annual property tax is Rs 4,000, the owner of property tax will have to pay 12,000. This will include Rs 4,000 as the property tax and Rs 8,000 as the penalty tax,” Gaikwad said.
“The owners insisted only on paying annual property tax, but not the penalty. This happened for three years since 2012. However, in 2015, PCMC decided to collect either property tax or penalty tax. We gave people the option to pay property tax or penalty tax till the state government took a final decision on regularisation. After this, while some paid the property tax, hardly a few paid the penalty tax,” said Gaikwad.
BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap, who had made regularisation of illegal structures his poll plank during the 2014 Assembly elections and promised waiver of the penalty once elected, said he was confident that the state government would regularise illegal structures and had therefore appealed to the people to wait till the government finally decided on the matter. “Collection of penalty tax was the duty of the PCMC. The civic body itself could not collect the tax as the state government had time and again expressed its willingness to regularise the illegal structures. Besides, the civic body itself had given the option of either paying property tax or penalty tax,” he said.