The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deferred relief from rollback
- Civic body to continue collecting water tax till repeal by govt

About a lakh households between Shyambazar and New Alipore that have been brought under the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) water-tax net will not get any immediate financial relief, despite the rollback of the tax. The CMC will continue to collect water tax until it is repealed by the state government.

“The water tax collected so far and to be collected in the interim will be deposited in a suspense account and will be adjusted later with property tax,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee.

According to a law officer, water bills till March 2004, totalling Rs 8 crore, have been sent to the house-owners and a sum of Rs 4.76 crore has already been realised from them. “Until the tax is repealed, the CMC cannot direct its collection department to accept property tax without water tax,” he explained. Besides, said an assessor and collector, the computers had been programmed to refuse deposition of property tax without water tax.

“My hands are tied. I will have to pass a resolution repealing the new water tax in the mayoral council meeting and get it ratified in the monthly meeting of the civic house, before sending it to the state government,” mayor Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

Though almost all the Trinamul Congress councillors and a number of CPM councillors from Calcutta proper think that water tax in its present form is discriminatory and requires revision, the Trinamul high command of the ruling CMC board had no second thoughts in rolling back the tax in Calcutta till the Lok Sabha election.

Meanwhile, a covert revision process of the controversial tax has started in the CMC. Mayor Mukherjee has entrusted council members Anup Chatterjee and Sovan Chatterjee to look into the matter. “Water tax, in its present form, is unethical,” said Chatterjee. “The mayor followed neither the guidelines of his party nor of the government,” he added.

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