Despite objections from Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has not only submitted a proposal to collect water tax but also obtained a nod from the government.
According to the civic body’s proposal, house-owners paying less than Rs 2,000 as property tax annually to the CMC have been exempted from paying water levies. So, those paying a yearly property tax of Rs 2,000 and above will come under the water tax net.
Ninety-five per cent of house-owners in the city proper (wards 1 to100) will, therefore, have to bear an additional annual burden, ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 1,800. Almost all house-owners in the added areas of Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur (wards 101 to 141) will be exempted, as they pay property tax less than Rs 2,000 annually.
The state government, while approving the CMC’s water tax proposal, pointed out that it should be reviewed to bring more people under the tax net.
Aware that the move will incur Mamata’s wrath, Mukherjee has passed the buck to members of his council. “I will leave it to the members of the mayoral council to decide the format of the water fees,” said Mukherjee, before leaving for Mexico.
The council members of Calcutta proper have already taken up the matter in party circles. They complained that the proposal was sent to the government without a formal meeting of the council or even an okay from Mamata. “We have decided to submit our note of dissent,” said Anup Chatterjee, council member in charge of roads.
“Filtered water can no longer be supplied free. So every one, except the poor, should cough up money for it,” said CPM leader and councillor Sudhanshu Sil.
Dubbing the CMC proposal “a conspiracy” to embarrass the party in the city, mayoral council members Anup Chatterjee, Javed Ahmed Khan, Swapan Samaddar, Samsuzzaman Ansari and Pradip Ghosh said the proposal had been framed “violating Mamata’s instructions”.