Demonstrating his loyalty to his constituency and the added areas at the cost of the rest of Calcutta, city water supply boss Sovan Chatterjee has stopped the tax revision process of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) in the 18 wards of Behala.
Chatterjee has demanded that before the existing amount of property tax paid by Behala households is revised, a rational basis for tax revision be announced first by the mayor.
Civic revenue officers resent mayor-in-council member Sovan Chatterjee’s role in blocking the tax-revision process in Behala.
“Property tax began to be revised in Behala six months ago but it cannot be carried out because of his opposition to it,” they said. He has asked the assessors and collector several times to place all assessment files of Behala on his table.
However, deputy municipal commissioner (revenue) N.K. Roy who left the CMC on Monday, did not allow this on the grounds that the revenue department was under the mayor’s direct control. He had also brought the matter to municipal commissioner Debasis Som’s notice.
“It cannot be tolerated. General revision of property tax is done after every six years, in accordance with the provisions of the CMC Act, 1980. Behala, after its merger with the CMC along with Jadavpur and Garden Reach, cannot escape the process,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Sunday.
“I am the first mayor to be vocal about the need for a rational tax basis for the entire city. And the process is on. But that does not mean that the process of revision of property tax will be kept in abeyance until a rationalised tax structure is introduced,” he added. He stressed that property tax in the added areas is abnormally low.
“I am well aware of the disparity in the rate of taxation between the added areas and Calcutta proper. But one should remember that the decision of the merger was imposed on the people of the added areas in the interest of the ruling party,” said Chatterjee.
Denying the mayor’s allegation of a low rate of tax, Chatterjee said: “When the Bill for the merger in 1984 was passed in the legislative Assembly, Subrata Mukherjee was an MLA. Did he protest or question the tax structure then'”
He added: “Is it a crime to demand a transparent assessment procedure'”
Chatterjee demanded that an assessment inspector visit a house, talk to its owner and tenants before preparing his inspection report. A copy of his report must be given to the owner of the house, on which he could file objections or make an appeal for reassessment.
The Trinamul Congress-BJP combine board in the CMC has decided to lay stress on harnessing untapped resources instead of raising the tax burden on house-owners living in the city core area.
“The CMC earns about Rs 160 crore annually by way of building tax from the city core area, whereas it is no more than Rs 12 crore from the added areas of Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur,” pointed out additional chief of municipal finance and accounts Abdul Ohid.