The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pay a price for your plot Proposed levy to be revised in five years
- Urban owners brought under land levy umbrella

The cash-strapped Left Front government has decided to dip its hands into the citizen’s pocket to shore up resources, bringing all land-owners in some of the more densely-populated urban areas under the land-revenue umbrella, that till now covered only rural land-owners.

The Calcutta Land Revenue Bill, 2003, will be tabled in the ongoing session of the Assembly, empowering the state government to collect revenue on all land in Calcutta, Howrah, Salt Lake and other municipal towns controlled by the CMDA. Only land owned by the government, its agencies and that used for public purposes will be exempted from paying up, according to the provisions of the proposed bill.

For Calcuttans, already burdened with the property tax of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, this comes as an added disadvantage, admit officials of the land and land reforms department. “This new tax will be like any other, in which owners of land will have to pay the state government a certain amount for using the land,” a senior official of the department said.

“The people of Calcutta and other towns within the purview of the proposed law will have to bear with the government as they, too, will benefit from the tax,” he said. “The money raised will be spent on the development of the areas concerned,” he explained.

The state government now collects revenue from land-owners in the rural and non-municipal urban areas. Satisfied with the rate of collection from there, land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah proposed that it be extended to other areas, officials said. Saying the new tax would raise around Rs 500 crore for the government every year, he convinced chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee into accepting the proposal.

The proposed tax will depend on how the land in question is being used, say officials. Size will not matter in the scheme of things, nor the location of the land. Residential plots of the same size at Esplanade and Dhakuria will yield the same revenue.

The proposed rates for every .01 acre (450 sq ft, approximately) are as follows:

§for industrial use: Rs 200

§for residential use: Rs 45

§for construction of highrises to be used for residential or commercial purposes: Rs 200

§for setting up an institution of non-commercial nature: Rs 45;

§for setting up an institution of commercial nature: Rs 200

§for use as park, garden or waterbody: Rs 200

§for vacant land: Rs 200 (commercial), Rs 45 (non-commercial).

The rate, according to the provisions of the proposed Bill, will be raised by 10 per cent every five years and the government will appoint separate revenue officers for Calcutta, Howrah, Salt Lake and other CMDA-run municipalities, who will verify the records, assess the revenue and notify land-owners.

Land-owners not content with the rate can appeal to the collector of stamp revenue or the collectors of North and South 24-Parganas or Howrah within 30 days of receiving the notice. If still dissatisfied, the owner can move West Bengal Land Reforms and Tenancy Tribunal for a review.

Two-wheeler theft bid: A man was arrested from Salt Lake's BC Block on Friday evening for a motorcycle snatching bid in front of Trinamul Congress MLA Arunabha Ghosh's residence. Police said three persons tried to snatch the motorcycle of one of the junior lawyers practising under Ghosh. They brandished weapons, but when challenged by the other lawyers present at the MLA's house, they fled.

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