NAGPUR: Like the rest of the city, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) officials were so busy enjoying the foodstuff at Futala promenade that they forgot to take property tax from sell ads, the outdoor publicity agency that rents out the shops.
This small oversight came to fore when Sanjay Agrawal, president of city-based NGO People Against Corruption (PAC), sought information under the RTI Act. When NMC was told of this, its tax department completed assessing the property tax dues and issued a demand note of Rs2.27 crore property tax dues. It also assessed current year's property tax at Rs53.65 lakh.
Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) had given Sell Ads the contract to run Futala Chowpatty for five years. The firm, allegedly in connivance with NIT officials, resorted to additional illegal construction. PAC lodged several complaints about the illegal activities. But both NMC and NIT failed to act. Agrawal then approached the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court and filed a Public Interest Litigation, which is awaiting a hearing.
The NGO also submitted a written complaint to municipal commissioner Shyam Wardhane on May 10, 2013. He had directed Dharampeth zone to look into the complaint. The zone took almost six months to assess tax for Futala Chowpatty, and it came to Rs53.65 lakh per year.
NMC tax department superintendent MD Subhedhar said he had already informed Agrawal that Sell Ads has been asked to pay property tax of Rs2.27 crore for last four years, and Rs53,65,420 for the current year.
Agrawal said the 'cash-strapped' civic body has not been assessing many commercial properties for property tax for the past several years, resulting in heavy loss of revenue. However, sources said this was just the tip of the iceberg as there are many commercial properties paying very low property tax.
Meanwhile, Satranjipura zone has attached three properties in its zone for defaulting on property tax payments worth Rs1.95 lakh. A senior official said that despite several demand notes, a property owner failed to pay Rs1.41 lakh and on March 6, the zone attached the property. Similarly, to recover dues of Rs28,297 and Rs24,208 from two property units, the zone attached their properties too.