More than COVID-19, ‘anomalies’ in property tax blamed for closure of cinemas in Mysuru

Rates levied are exorbitant, says film exhibitors federation

Like in many parts of the State, cinemas in Mysuru too have remained closed for more than three months now due to COVID-19 lockdown. But, the film exhibitors have attributed the threat of permanent closure staring in the face of many cinemas in the city more to the financial burden arising out of an anomaly in levy of property tax than three months of lockdown.

After the recent announcement of closure of Shantala Talkies situated on Narayana Shastri Road in K.R. Mohalla, film exhibitors’ circles in Mysuru were agog with talks about the imminent closure of a few more.

“It is not just COVID-19 which has put cinemas in Mysuru in financial distress. The property tax rate levied on them in Mysuru has been exorbitantly high. A new category has been created for cinemas in Mysuru for levying the highest rate of property tax, much higher than even commercial rate”, said M.R. Rajaram, owner of Gayathri Talkies and Vice-President of Karnataka Film Exhibitors Federation.

Contending that the property tax rate levied for cinemas was unique to Mysuru, he said a cinema spread across 25,000 sq. ft in Bengaluru’s Gandhinagar area pays ₹3.10 lakh per annum, but a cinema spread across 18,500 sq. ft in Mysuru’s central business district is asked to pay a whopping ₹8.78 lakh per annum.

Property tax rate for cinemas in Mysuru city is at an exorbitant 2.28 per cent of the capital value of the property, Mr Rajaram said.

Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) Commissioner Gurudatta Hegde, however, said the matter raised by the film exhibitors has to be brought to the notice of the MCC Council and discussed. “Because, any change in the tax needs to be approved by the Council and subsequently by-laws need to be changed if the claim is found to be true”, he said.

Apart from property tax, Mr. Rajaram said the theatre owners have to obtain NOC from PWD, electricity supply companies, Fire Safety and Health Departments before obtaining a cinematography licence from the Deputy Commissioner once in five years. Though the validity of the NOC and cinematography licence was increased to five years from three years, “a mistake in the printing of the licence fee had increased their amount by several folds, rubbing salt into our wounds,” he lamented.

Mr. Rajaram said Mysuru city had a total of 21 single-screen cinemas during the turn of the century. But, the property tax woes began hitting them with the introduction of Self Assessment Scheme (SAS). Now, there are just 10 single-screen cinemas out of which at least three more are rumoured to be in negotiation for outright sale of the property. “Soon, we will be left with just a handful of them”, he said before adding that the future of single-screen cinemas in Mysuru does not appear rosy even post-COVID-19 unless the anomalies are set right.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 12:20:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/more-than-covid-19-anomalies-in-property-tax-blamed-for-closure-of-cinemas-in-mysuru/article31946668.ece

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