A state government communication stating that development charges on new constructions can be doubled to raise funds for transport projects only after it notifies it as a ‘Vital Urban Transport Project’ has put the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in a fix. The civic body has already doubled the development charges to raise funds for various mass transit systems after the government amended the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act in 2015. The latest government communication means that now the PMC has to refund developers.
On August 21, 2015, the state government amended the MRTP Act for areas under any Planning Authority or New Town Development Authority. Under the amended Act, if the state government declares its intention to undertake one or more ‘Vital Urban Transport Projects’, the development charges levied and collected should be increased by 100 per cent. The PMC on June 27, 2017, passed a resolution in the civic body to implement it with retrospective effect. But, in its communication to the PMC, the urban development department has said that the civic body’s move to double development charges on new constructions with restrospective effect is incorrect.
It says that the amended provision in the MRTP Act has to be implemented by the Planning Authority concerned only after the state government announces the “Vital Urban Transport Projects” through an official gazette. “The state government notified the implementation of the Pune Metro rail project as a ‘Vital Urban Transport Project’ on May 10, 2018 in its official gazette. Thus, the amendment in the MRTP Act should be executed from the day of publishing of the notification in the official gazette,” it says.
PMC’s City Engineer Prashant Waghmare said that the civic body, by doubling the development charges, wanted to use the funds only for a mass transit system. “I have not received the recent government communication but if it says that the implementation of the amended provision of the Act should be after the Metro project was declared a ‘Vital Urban Transport Project’, then the PMC will have to refund developers,” he said.
Another civic official said that the government communication was going to create problems for the civic body, already facing financial problems due to a slowdown in the real estate industry. “The Centre had approved the Metro project in 2013 and has been funding it for some years. The project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2016 and its implementation began last year, so it makes no sense to say that the amendment to double development charges be only after the notification declaring the project as ‘Vital Urban Transport Project’,” he said.