NAGPUR: After revenue collection scam, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) property tax department has been hit by an assessment scandal. Of total 26 units, the officials of NMC Dharampeth Zone assessed only three units 10 years ago, forgetting to assess the sprawling Naivedyam Hall and 22 shops in Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) complex at Ambazari. Now, the property tax of only the hall has been assessed at Rs 1.09 crore, with the process of assessing the remaining shops in progress.
In another violation, the revaluation of properties too has not been done since long. Interestingly, two major irregularities have come to fore following inspection of properties on a single road, hinting at a bigger scam across the city.
NMC sources told TOI that municipal commissioner Shyam Wardhane had last month directed inspection of properties situated on North Ambazari Road, between Ambazari Lake and University Library Square. Property tax department has not registered expected rise in number of properties under the property tax purview every year. Number of properties increased by just 2.2% in 2012-13, with total number of properties increasing from 4,71,442 in 2011-12 to 4,82,438.
"Wardhane directed random inspection of properties to verify if any properties had not been assessed or undervalued. Accordingly, North Ambazari Road was chosen for inspection. Tax assessor Shashikant Hastak with team of Laxmi Nagar Zone and Dharampeth Zone carried out the inspection," the sources said.
Speaking about the inspection report, Hastak told TOI that everyone was shocked to find Naivedyam Hall and 22 shops were not under property tax purview. "Construction of NIT complex comprising the hall, 25 shops and NIT offices was completed before 2013. Three shops were assessed but the hall and 22 shops were left out. Similarly, verification of 55 properties on the road revealed 28 properties had not been revalued. NMC would have got property tax revenue of Rs 1.25 crore from these properties between 2003-04 and 2013-14. Notice demanding payment of Rs 1.09 crore has been given to the hall and the others will also be issued notices in the coming days," he said.
Taking serious cognisance, Wardhane has suspended two officials, including tax inspector from Dharampeth Zone PR Patil and junior engineer PK Giri, the then tax inspector, on Wednesday. The civic chief also directed issue of show cause notice to all officials who have worked in Dharampeth Zone since 2003 till date, including three assistant commissioners, six tax inspectors and two tax collectors. These notices are likely to be issued on Monday.
Hastak told TOI the assessment of properties has been taken very seriously this fiscal. "Some 15,020 properties have been assessed already in the nine months of this fiscal. Revenue will go up Rs 36.57 crore from this assessment. Number of properties under property tax purview has also increased to 4,97,458," he said.
Giving details about annual revenue, Hastak said Rs 114.03 crore has been collected till date in this fiscal. Total demand of this fiscal is Rs 317 crore, including arrears of Rs 206 crore. Revenue in 2012-13 was Rs 162.31 crore from a total demand of Rs 210 crore, including Rs 112 crore arrears. Revenue in 2011-12 was Rs 135 crore from total demand of Rs 246 crore, including arrears of Rs 143 crore.