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Tax bill cleared minus Salt Lake

Calcutta, Dec. 5: Under pressure from two heavyweight colleagues, land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah was “compelled” to keep Salt Lake out of the land tax net.

Mollah was scheduled to bring an amendment to the Calcutta Land Revenue Bill, 2003, to declare leased land-owners ryots. The original bill, passed in the budget session, had empowered the government to levy tax on lease holders in Calcutta, Howrah, Salt Lake and other areas under the CMDA.

As the original Bill had no mention of a levy on lease-hold land, problem emerged in imposing tax in Salt Lake, where all plots were leased for 999 years. To include land on long-term lease in the tax net, Mollah had proposed an amendment to the original bill.

Finance minister Asim Dasgupta, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and chairman of Salt Lake municipality Dilip Gupta raised objections saying plots in the township will be free-hold if the lessees were declared ryots. They pressured the land reforms minister to keep the township out of the tax net. Though Mollah tabled the Calcutta Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill 2003, today, government chief whip Rabin Deb moved another amendment exempting lease-holders from the tax burden.

The land reforms minister later said he was “compelled” to admit the amendment as the objection came from two departments. “I complied with the orders of the superiors but I can say it will be unjust if we do not levy tax on the land owners of Salt Lake, who are mostly financially sound. Can you tell me on what ground the residents of Salt Lake will be spared if the people of Garulia or Bansberia pay tax'” Mollah said.

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