New Delhi, Feb. 11: The Delhi municipal corporation today moved from bulldozers to bank accounts, coming down with a heavy hand on some of the best-known colleges in the country for defaulting on property tax payments.
The civic body attached the bank accounts of St. Stephen’s College, Hindu College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Hansraj College and Kirorimal College after they failed to cough up property tax arrears that have run into lakhs over the years.
Civic officials said the colleges had forced the corporation’s hand by not heeding repeated reminders.
Hansraj College tops the list of defaulters, owing the corporation Rs 59 lakh. Shri Ram is next with Rs 48 lakh in arrears, followed by Kirorimal with Rs 47 lakh. St. Stephen’s and Hindu owe the civic body Rs 42 lakh and Rs 20 lakh respectively.
The crackdown on colleges comes a few days after the corporation’s bulldozers ploughed into illegally constructed malls on the capital’s fashion street and turned the heat on some schools.
Officials of some of the colleges conceded that arrears had not been paid, but were shocked the civic body had resorted to extreme steps.
“I am really shocked to know our bank accounts have been attached, though we pay the minimum amount of Rs 14,000 every year as property tax,” Hansraj college principal S.R. Arora said.
He said the college, known for its science and commerce departments, did not generate income and ran on grants from the UGC (95 per cent) and the management (5 per cent).
“The college is as good as government property and the tax has been slapped on the government. It is not us but UGC which will pay up.”
He claimed the action against Hansraj was too strong, as he knew of colleges which had not paid the corporation “even a single penny”.
Kirorimal College principal Bhimsen Singh said the action was “unfair” and would give the college a “bad name”. “We repeatedly told the MCD our college runs on 100 per cent UGC grants and the onus lies with the UGC to pay property tax. We also said we would ask the UGC to arrange the money,” he said.
“The MCD should have had some patience before moving into coercive action.”
A civic body official, however, said: “Our job is to collect tax dues. It does not matter who owns the building ' private company or government agency.”