Bengaluru

Bengaluru mayor moots cutting power, water supply of tax defaulters

For this fiscal, BBMP set itself a target of ₹3,500 crore, but as of December 31, 2019, it has collected only ₹2,394 crore.

For this fiscal, BBMP set itself a target of ₹3,500 crore, but as of December 31, 2019, it has collected only ₹2,394 crore.   | Photo Credit: SOMASHEKAR G R N

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He feels the threat of suspension of essential services will force them to pay up

If the city mayor has his way, top property tax defaulters in each of the eight zones in the city, will have their utility services – power and water supply – cut.

“We have tried many ways to try to collect property tax arrears, including shaming defaulters and beating drums in front of these properties. But still there are defaulters who have refused to pay up. Now we want to get their power and water supply cut, so that it will force them pay up,” said city mayor M. Gautam Kumar.

The mayor has instructed civic officials to prepare a list of top 20 tax defaulters in each zone. “I will take the list to Bangalore Electricity Supply Company and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board seeking a disconnection of utility services,” he said.

Property tax is the chief source of income for the civic body and a cash-strapped BBMP is on a special drive to shore up its revenues. Collection of arrears, that stood at over ₹500 crore in September 2019, plays a key role in this endeavour.

Though property tax collection has been steadily improving during the last few years, the BBMP has yet to reach its target. For this fiscal, it set itself a target of ₹3,500 crore, but as December 31, 2019 – three months away from the conclusion of the financial year – it had collected only ₹2,394 crore.

However, the proposal to discontinue utility services to tax defaulters, has received mixed response even within the civic body. “The Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976 provides only one option to receive arrears – to confiscate and auction moveable properties of defaulters. The Act does not provide for disconnection of utility services. Moreover, drinking water is considered a basic human right and it is unlikely that the agencies will co-operate,” said a senior BJP councillor, striking a discordant note with the mayor, also from BJP.

However, a senior civic official pointed out that Bescom and BWSSB do regularly disconnect services, over non-payment of bills. “In Mumbai, where these utility providers work under civic the authority, disconnection over tax dues is regularly done. It is a call to be taken by the state government to ensure utility providers work in tandem with the civic body in the city,” the official said.

BWSSB Chairperson Tushar Girinath was non-committal on the issue and said the Board would examine the proposal once it received a written request from the civic body.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:18:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/mayor-moots-cutting-power-water-supply-of-tax-defaulters/article30551703.ece

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