Staff diversion and yet-to-be-out tax regime force corporation to pause crackdown

The State government decision to revise the building tax structure has come as a temporary relief for building rules violators in the city.

Despite identifying illegal constructions in the central city area, the corporation has not been able to proceed with the cases as the government is yet to come out with the new tax structure. The civic authorities had identified over 1,000 illegal constructions in the city, including commercial and residential buildings.

The three-month-old drive against illegal structures was called off as the officials were diverted for numbering houses in the city. Moreover, the government announced its intention to introduce a new tax regime based on the proximity of the buildings to roads. The investigation held in the central city area from MG Road to Thevara and other parts of the city had spotted 224 violations in commercial buildings, including some hospitals, said an official.

The most common violation was construction of additional floors on legally permitted structures. Any modification and addition to the original structure needs the permission of municipal authorities, said an official of the Revenue Department of Kochi Corporation.

In some cases, multi-storied buildings were constructed on campuses and some floors in the buildings were occupied without obtaining the occupancy certificate from the civic authorities. The corporation is fighting legal battles in a few cases as the builders had challenged the decision of the civic body in courts, he said.

A few building owners have remitted the fine slapped by the civic body following the identification of the violations and got their structures regularised. The civic body had also collected Rs. 2.5 crore as tax from the drive, he said.

Drive to resume

Deputy Mayor of Kochi corporation B. Bhadra said the civic body would renew the drive when the government notifies new tax structure. Till then, it would not be able to act. The civic body is managing its regular functions and special drives with the limited number of officials available with it. These officials are often called for census and other duties assigned by the State government and other agencies, affecting the special missions, said Ms. Bhadra who heads the Finance Standing Committee of the corporation.

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