Corporation council approves Rs.7417-crore plan for Central aid

Special Correspondent

CDP proposes a hike of 25 per cent in property tax in the year 2007

Thiruvananthapuram: The City Corporation Council on Wednesday approved a Rs.7417-crore city development plan (CDP) to be submitted to the Central Government for assistance under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Apart from the Corporation area, the 20-year perspective plan covers parts of Vizhinjam, Kazhakkuttom, Sreekaryam, Kudappanakunnu and Vattiyoorkavu panchayats bordering the city. It includes projects in 10 sectors, namely water supply, sewerage, stormwater drainage, environment, solid waste management, traffic and transportation, urban regeneration, heritage and tourism, social infrastructure and basic services for the urban poor.

Total outlay

While the total outlay for the infrastructure sector is pegged at Rs.6840 crore, an amount of Rs.577 crore has been earmarked for the sub mission on basic services for the urban poor.

The projects will be implemented over a period of seven years, with the Centre footing 80 per cent of the cost and the State Government and the Corporation providing 10 per cent each.

The CDP was prepared by a core committee headed by Mayor C. Jayan Babu after detailed consultations with various Government departments, private and voluntary organisations, NGOs, professional groups and individuals.

Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi are among the 63 cities that have been selected for the mission to fast-track the development of infrastructure and basic services.

User fee

During the discussion in the council, members expressed concern over the proposals to levy user fee and hike various taxes to mobilise additional resources for the projects to be taken up under the mission.

The CDP proposes a hike of 25 per cent in property tax in the year 2007 and an increase of 50 per cent by the year 2012. The professional tax increase amounts to 30 per cent in 2007 and 60 per cent by 2012.

Responding to the apprehensions, the Mayor said the Corporation would seek to augment user fee collection and widen the tax base, rather than burdening the common man. "By providing better services and launching a crackdown on tax evasion, we hope to increase the annual revenue of the Corporation from Rs.38.5 crore to Rs.55.7 crore over the next five years. We are also expecting a sizeable increase in Plan fund allocation from the Government," he said.

BPL families

Later, addressing a press conference, Mr. Jayan Babu said the CDP would be submitted to the Kerala State Urban Development Programme (KSUDP), the nodal agency for the JNNURM. He said BPL families would be exempted from the proposed user fee for various services as part of the projects implemented under the mission.

Project management

The preparation of detailed project reports in various sectors would be taken up soon. The Mayor said a fast-track mechanism would be put in place for implementation of the JNNURM projects.

The whole exercise would be coordinated by a project management office. He added that the State Government had decided to approach the Centre with a request to allocate mission funds for land acquisition, in view of the acute scarcity of land to take up development works in Kerala.

Mr. Jayan Babu said a revolving fund would be set up for bridge financing of infrastructure projects.

The CDP has to be cleared by the State-level steering committee before being submitted to the Centre for approval.

Core committee convenor T.M. Sudha, Deputy Mayor V. Jayaprakash, Corporation Secretary T.K. Raveendran, former Chief Town Planner Kasturi Rangan and other committee members were present at the council meeting and the press conference.

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