Kochi

Corpn. shelves mapping project for property tax collection

Figure quoted by ULCCS too high, says finance standing committee member

Even as the Kozhikode-based Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (ULCCS) takes advantage of the spurt in demand for accurate geospatial data, particularly after the 2018 floods in the State, the Kochi Corporation has cold-shouldered the cooperative’s proposal to map the area for improved property tax collection efficiency.

LSGD order

An order from the Local Self-Government Department (LSGD) from October 2018 issued to local bodies across the State suggested that they implement a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping project through ULCCS. An agenda with the company’s proposal was placed before the Corporation Council in August last year, but was set aside for further discussion.

Despite being a useful project, it had not been revived since, mostly on the grounds that the ₹5.29-crore figure quoted by ULCCS was too high, said M. B. Muraleedharan, member of finance standing committee. The Opposition argued that the e-governance system should be put in place before such a mapping process was executed.

Merging of projects

Since a mapping project is already being implemented by the District Town Planning Department, the finance committee suggested that the council could consider merging the two projects to save funds, while using ULCCS’s base map, which promised to be more accurate.

The committee also suggested that the satellite images procured for the Town Planning Department could be shared with ULCCS to cut costs.

Deputy Mayor K. R. Premakumar said the agency was not picked through a competitive process that might have been able to lower the prices, but the proposal had not been discarded entirely.

The project, Intelligent Property Management System, being implemented by Uralungal Technology Solutions, the cooperative’s technology arm, aims to facilitate automation of property tax estimation.

According to a source at the cooperative, completion of the project in eight municipalities and panchayats and ongoing work in 20 others across the State had demonstrated that the State continues to lose a large amount of tax revenue because many parameters such floor area, the zone in which the property is located, the kind of roofing, basic amenities available, and width of the road in front of the property were not being mapped clearly.

“In a small municipality of around 30,000 households, there can be an increase of 40% to 50% in tax collected if these parameters are mapped scientifically,” said the source.

Drone technology

Since satellite imagery, which is used for most mapping processes, can offer ground resolution of only around 40 cm, the project deploys drone technology with multiple high resolution cameras for a ground resolution of at least 4 cm. Socio-economic data from the area is also collected to gauge the residents’ development needs and access to basic utilities.

The project was cumbersome to implement, particularly in Kerala where tree cover was dense, which was why multiple mapping projects had been initiated and abandoned, the source said. Within Kochi Corporation limits, the presence of Naval establishments would require additional permissions to fly a drone and that could prolong the process.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 7:10:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/corpn-shelves-mapping-project-for-property-tax-collection/article30497751.ece

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