Bill that helps developers secure additional FAR at a premium passed in Council amid BJP walkout

Published - February 22, 2024 11:43 pm IST - Bengaluru

Amidst walk out by the BJP, the Karnataka Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill, that will help developers secure additional floor area (FAR) at a premium, was passed by the Legislative Council on Thursday.

The BJP opposed the bill stating that it would create confusion and increase density in Bengaluru. It wanted the bill referred to the House Committee for further review, which was not accepted. “Referring the bill to the house committee can delay the bill temporarily, but ultimately it will become a law. We have only simplified the law and expect the revenues to increase,” said Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition Kota Srinivas Poojary said that the amendment would result in corruption and would create confusion. BJP member K.S. Naveen said that those with land parcels would benefit from the amendment and could cause congestion in areas that have narrow lanes while another BJP member Keshavprasad urged the bill to be referred to the House committee.

Earlier in the day, amidst concerns expressed over property tax to be levied based on the guidance value in Bengaluru, the BBMP (Amendment) Bill, 2024, was passed in Legislative Council. Mr. Shivakumar justified the new property tax regime citing the directions from the Centre based on the 15th Finance Commission recommendation.

Outside tax net

“About five to seven lakh properties are outside the tax net in Bengaluru. The property tax calculation based on guidance value is on the direction from the Finance Commission. Property owners in Bengaluru could get a relief of about ₹ 2,000 crore while BBMP will net about ₹ 1,000 crore in tax,” he told the Legislative Council.

While the bill had been passed in the Legislative Assembly earlier, the BBMP on Wednesday notified the tax slabs and rates that will come into effect from April 1, 2024.

Notified slums exempted

Responding to various concerns expressed by the members, he said that notified slums have been exempted along agriculture land in 110 villages coming in BBMP limits. “Only converted land parcels will be taxed. This is a progressive bill.”

On concerns expressed by the members that big tax defaulters had benefitted in the one-time settlement (OTS) scheme that entails 50% rebate, Mr. Shivakumar clarified that the OTS is applicable only for the interest part and not the tax. Further, it is being extended to only residential properties and not commercial properties. “Notices have been issued to about 70,000 properties. Interest rate on penalty has also been brought down from 24% to 9%.”

Earlier, BJP member K.S. Naveen said: “Pensioners who earlier bought properties in old areas of Jayanagar, Basavangudi and Sadashivanagar will have difficulty in paying higher tax due to high guidance value as they do not have any alternative income. Those living in old properties but do not have regular income would also be in trouble. This is unscientific.” Other members including JD(S) members K.A. Thippeswamy and Govindaraju and BJP member Gopinath also raised the concerns of tax burden going up on the middle class property owners in old areas.

Pointing out another problem, BJP member Bharathi Shetty said: “In several instances, the land owners/ developers have not transferred khata in favour of the buyers. In these cases, who has to pay the tax?”

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