`It will prevent local bodies from seeking objections from the people'
Parishat's viewsAmendment to the Act allows civic bodies to increase taxes without any hindrance Negative implications came to the fore when the MCC increased the water tariff recently The amendment gives no scope for public participation
MYSORE: The Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) has said that an amendment to the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, has negative implications and called for a debate on the issue.
In a press release issued here on Thursday, the MGP said the amendment to Section 106 of the Act would prevent local bodies from seeking objections from the public when increasing taxes, and empowered such bodies to pass a resolution specifying the classes of persons or properties to be made liable and the amount or rate at which the tax would be levied.
The amended rule says that when such a resolution has been passed, the corporation shall publish it on its notice board and advertise in local newspapers. The publication of such notice shall be conclusive evidence that the tax has been imposed in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the rules made there under.
The MGP contended that the revised amendment adopted by the State Government a few years ago had not come to light so far and accordingly, the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) could increase taxes or water tariff without any hindrance. It need not worry about public opinion and government approval and was against the spirit of democracy. The negative implications of the amendment to the Act came to the fore when the MCC increased the water tariff recently.
Taking exception to the amendment, the MGP said that fixing water rates was a technically complicated issue. The MCC Council would have to go by the facts and figures submitted by the officials of Vani Vilas Water Works (VVWW) in the absence of technical expertise to verify them.
The MGP said it was clear that in the present water crisis, the MCC was being misled by the officials, and information on the quantity and quality of water that was being supplied, leakage losses, the number of illegal connections, the reason for the crisis, audited income and expenditure of VVWW was not forthcoming. Without outside experts probing the information given by VVWW, the officials would be free to fix water rates at a level convenient to them citing the provisions of the revised Act, according to P.M. Bhat of the MGP.
The MGP alleged that water rates and property taxes in Mysore were being levied based on political expediency than on sound management principles. It said that fixing water tariff was a complicated issue which required technical expertise. The trend all over the world and even in India was towards setting up regulatory bodies for public utilities to provide expertise, the MGP said.
It pointed out that no decision affecting the citizens of Mysore should be taken without getting their feedback. But the amendment gave no scope for public participation, the MGP said.