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Tax whip on colony flats
- Pay up or go dry: Mayor’s water-war cry

Get your apartments assessed and cough up property tax if you don’t want your taps turned off and sewer lines clogged.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has decided to despatch this ultimatum to apartment-owners in the colony areas through local councillors and borough chairmen of Jodhpur Park, Jadavpur, Dhakuria, New Alipore, Sahapur, Tollygunge, Behala and Beleghata.

There are 50,000 three-cottah plots in 250 refugee colonies in the city.

According to Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) estimates, more than 2,000 apartment blocks have already been sold and the state government has lost over Rs 100 crore in registration fees.

Officials said the CMC is losing “Rs 50 crore every year” since the 50,000 plots and the houses on them have not been assessed. “Of these, multi-storeyed complexes have been constructed on over 500 plots”, said a civic revenue officer. “I have sent assessors there a number of times but they have been hounded out by the colony settlers,” he claimed.

These buildings do not have sanctioned plans but the promoters claim the CMC will legalise the constructions.

More than 2,000 complexes have already come up on colony plots and many more are on their way. The flats are touted as “dream-purchases” for middle-class buyers with a budget between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 8 lakh.

At the current market price, the real-estate rate in New Alipore or Jodhpur Park is Rs 3,000 per square feet. But on a colony plot in the same area, the promoter demands only Rs 1,200 per square feet.

He enters into a sale agreement drawn up on Rs-10 stamp papers at the court of the Notary Public.

This, insists Shaktibrata Ghosh, CMC deputy chief law officer and officer-on-special duty to the mayor, is invalid.

“We have often tried to inspect these buildings. But our efforts have been blocked by the settlers, often with the backing of political leaders who live in these colonies,” alleged former city architect Uday Sengupta.

Earlier, in a move to legitimise these unauthorised constructions, the CMC had asked colony-settlers to apply for registration and assessment by December 1997. But only around 200 applications trickled in.

The civic authorities then extended the deadline, first to March 1998 and then to March 1999. But nothing seems to have worked. This has prompted the mayor to unleash a potent instrument of civic governance — the ‘dry drive’.

The complexes on colony plots will clearly be told to step into line, cough up their dues or face a water war.

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