Shimla: After being a party to the switch over to a new property tax imposition method, Mayor Sanjay Chauhan and Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar have cleverly evaded responsibility by passing the buck to the government saying that it was thrust down their throat.
“For a year we tried to defer it, expecting that the government would reconsider it, but with the HP High Court having set a deadline to resolve the matter, we have been compelled to adopt it,” is how a report quoted Chauhan defending his position before the media.
Property tax has been a contentious issue in the city and Chauhan and Panwar, who created history by winning the coveted positions on CPI (M) tickets, had vowed to election audiences and voters that the unit area method for imposition of taxes would not be levied in Shimla.
After introducing the tax evaluation method the old annual ratable method would be done away with. Over 50,000 buildings, which for the first time would bring upto 100 sq meter self occupied houses, are expected to brought into the tax net.
To add salt to injury, against the duos and the party’s stance of keeping areas (including farm lands) that have been merged with the municipality out of the property tax ambit also stand adopted.
Property tax collection, which was Rs 8 Cr for 2010-11, is expected to more than double under the new unit area method for calculating property taxes. Self occupied houses, vacant plots and new farm lands are expected to be brought under the ambit of the property tax.
Expressing reservation about having adopted the new unit area method, Chauhan said “it would shift the burden from rich to poor.”
An amendment to Municipal Committee Act was carried out in August 2011 and it was notified in January 2012. The municipality would now have to frame bylaws before end of the month to enforce the new taxation system.
Having failed to stall the imposition of the new house tax system, Panwar said, “though the new property tax method is a very scientific one but not suited for Shimla. With some changes it would have been to the benefit of all.”