The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is hoping to fill its coffers after the State Cabinet recently approved the amendment of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, which will see those who have constructed buildings in violation of the bylaws pay double the property tax as penalty. The civic body is looking at an additional revenue of ₹400 crore from violators.
Officials as well as residents’ welfare associations hope that the hefty penalty will serve as a deterrent.
Senior civic officials estimate that of the nearly 20 lakh properties in the city, four lakh – both residential and commercial – have been identified for violations of building bylaws and the approved plan. Of these, 3.62 lakh are residential properties, 16,760 are non-residential, and 18,415 are both residential and non-residential.
“These properties are cumulatively paying ₹401.12 crore as property tax. If the Cabinet decision is implemented, the BBMP will get double that amount,” said an official.
However, it is unclear when the BBMP will be able to collect the penalty.
BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar said the civic body will have to wait for the State government to issue a notification. “The notification will say from when the penalty can be levied. It may go back to the Assembly as an amendment to the KMC Act,” he added.
Jayamahal councillor M.K. Gunasekhar said the objective of the Cabinet decision is to check building bylaw violations.
According to councillors, in many cases, BBMP officials have turned a blind eye to violations by builders and property owners.
It is still unclear on the action to be initiated against such civic officials, Mr. Gunakekhar pointed out. “This is a difficult prospect as many officials would have been transferred while some may have even passed away. The civic body must now direct its revenue and town planning officials to undertake a ground-level survey to identify violators,” he added.
BBMP looks at Mumbai to improve collection
The track record of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in property tax collection isn’t the best as it is yet to achieve it targets, but it is hoping to address this issue by taking a leaf out of Mumbai’s book.
Recently, a team from the BBMP, including Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar, Mayor M. Goutham Kumar, Ruling Party Leader K. Muneendra Kumar, and Opposition Leader Abdul Wajid visited Mumbai to interact with officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Mr. Goutham Kumar tweeted: “Our visit of Mumbai was a great learning experience for all of us. Some great insight from @mybmc officials and Mayor Smt. @KishoriPednekar on trade licence, disaster management, town planning and GIS-based property management system.”
Civic chief Mr. Anil Kumar told The Hindu that the Mumbai corporation has a very good system of property tax. “There, the property tax is linked with health licence (trade licence), Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), and registration under Shops and Commercial Establishments Act. This means that there is very little chance for any building to escape the tax net,” he explained.
Not all of the 20 lakh properties in Bengaluru are covered under the tax net. The BBMP, until January 15, had collected ₹2,425 crore, as against the target of ₹3,500 crore.
Mr. Anil Kumar added that officials also discussed Ease of Doing Business, under which sanction of construction permits, had already been implemented by the Mumbai corporation. “We are also exploring the options to simplify the processes involved in sanctioning building plans, according permits,” he added.
Meanwhile, the BBMP has made a list of top tax defaulters in each of the eight zones in the city. According to officials, the top 10 defaulters of East zone owe ₹2.27 crore to the civic body while those in West zone owe ₹2.09 crore. The dues from the top 10 in South zone amounts to ₹3.64 crore while it is ₹5.42 crore in Mahadevapura, ₹1.41 crore in Yelahanka, ₹1.29 crore in Bommanahalli, ₹3.09 crore in Dasarahalli and a whopping ₹18.97 crore in Rajarajeshwarinagar zone.
The BBMP has reportedly issued two to three demand notices to the defaulters. “We will issue the final demand notice. If they fail to pay even after the final demand notice, the movable properties will be seized, as per provisions of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976,” said a senior civic official.