Special Correspondent

Issuance of notices to 80,000-odd properties quite slow

GHMC had expected to collect a sum of Rs. 15-20 crore

Commissioner had issued a circular last month

HYDERABAD: Nothing wrong with the idea but it is the implementation which is causing all the pain. After boldly proclaiming its resolve to collect property tax from unregistered properties, the GHMC has not been able to get much response.

The issuance of notices to the estimated 80,000-odd properties too has been quite tardy, admit officials. The expectation was that GHMC might be able to get Rs. 15-20 crore even with the 50 per cent ceiling limit put by the Government.

Commissioner and Special Officer C.V.S.K. Sarma had issued a circular last month directing unauthorised structures that have come up in Government lands, land ceiling surplus land, endowments land, etc., to be brought under the tax net.

Owners of such properties were liable to pay tax irrespective of whether they have a registered document or not. While the corporation had the power to levy a penalty of 10 per cent on the amount of tax levied till “such unauthorised construction is demolished or regularised,” the Government had hiked it to 25 per cent in December last.

A separate tax receipt is to be issued and a separate assessment book is to be maintained at each circle for these collections. An indemnity bond has also to be signed by property owners stating that tax payment does not confer ownership rights.

Dr. Sarma in his circular had pointed out that some officials were not collecting tax unauthorised properties wrongly interpreting these were “disputed structures”. The civic body had the power to cancel the assessment order any time if a dispute arose on the property ownership.

Marked reluctance

The logic was since civic amenities were being provided tax should be collected “scrupulously” in order to achieve the target of Rs. 350 crore for the current financial year ended March 31. But, the collections have not taken off due to marked reluctance from the lower staff.

The same attitude was also reflective in assessing tax on commercial properties as per the new area based system, accept officials.

“We are clear on the transparent method to follow,” said an official.