The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pay-up guns boom on defence units

After the bearhug comes the bill. Within four days of Mamata Banerjee embracing George Fernandes on the Brigade Parade Grounds stage, her Trinamul Congress-run civic body has decided to serve a Rs 2.12-crore due slip on the defence minister.

The principal amount — no penalty or interest has been added — covers service charges for 10 defence establishments in the city, some pending for over a decade. According to the cash-strapped revenue department of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), the defence ministry must clear the dues for: 10A, Saheed Kshudiram Bose Sarani (Rs 60.85 lakh); 8, Diamond Harbour Road (Rs 46.28 lakh); 2, Eden Garden Road, or Fort William (Rs 31.64 lakh); 1, Ballygunge Circular Road (Rs 23.59 lakh); 249, AJC Bose Road (Rs 21.06 lakh); 2, Canal Road (Rs 16.66 lakh); 1, Eden Garden Road (Rs 6.55 lakh); 4, Dum Dum Road, or Gun & Shell factory (Rs 2.91 lakh); 246, AJC Bose Road (Rs 2.25 lakh); and 11, P.B. Shau Sarani (0.52 lakh).

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Friday wrote to the defence minister, requesting him to give instructions to his officers to pay up as the CMC was facing a financial crisis. “I am writing to Fernandes following a discussion with him on Tuesday,” explained Mukherjee.

According to municipal commissioner Debasis Som, the CMC cannot impose property tax on Central government establishments in the city. Instead, service charge, “allowable at 75 per cent of the property tax”, is realised from them. Various Central government departments have started coughing up their service-charge dues to the CMC, but not the ministry of defence.

The former Left Front board in the CMC had repeatedly tried to realise service-charge dues from Central government establishments in the city, but had failed. “I am hopeful that this time the CMC will recover its dues from the defence ministry,” said Mukherjee.

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