PUNE: After Pune, it is now the turn of the property tax defaulters in Pimpri Chinchwad to face the music, literally. The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation will start sending brass bands to play music in front of the defaulters’ houses from January 27 onwards till March 31.
The Pune Municipal Corporation tried the “music therapy” and recovered property tax arrears worth Rs 72 crore in four months – September to December – last year. The PMC has decided to continue with the services of the brass bands in the new financial year.
Bhanudas Gaikwad, assistant commissioner and chief of property tax department, PCMC, said, “We need to recover arrears worth Rs 250 crore. The department has hired 10 brass band teams to play music in front of properties whose owners have not cleared the arrears. The move is to embarrass them so that they pay the property tax at the earliest.”
Gaikwad said the department had sent bills to property owners within the municipal limits last year. People who failed to pay their dues by December 31 are being considered as defaulters. There are 3.8 lakh properties registered with the department out of which owners of 2.25 lakh properties have paid their bills. Arrears amounting to Rs 250.97 crore are outstanding till date.
“The department has divided the municipal limits into 15 divisions. Two contractors have been assigned to provide five bands each. One of them has been told to play music in eight divisions, while the other contractor will cover the remaining seven divisions. Each team will have three musicians. The total expenditure on hiring the bands is Rs 8.5 lakh,” Gaikwad said.
The contractors have been told to play music in five zones – Thergaon, Bhosari, Sangvi, Chikhli and Chinchwad – on all days as they have the largest number of properties.
Gaikwad said the contractors will be given a list of properties at the allotted zonal offices at 10 am every day. Two to three employees of the department from every division will accompany the musicians of each team. He said that the department has hired around 10 vehicles for the band teams.
However, the idea of playing music in front of defaulters’ properties has not gone down well with civic activists in Pimpri Chinchwad. Manav Kamble of Nagari Hakka Suraksha Samiti has written a letter to the municipal commissioner stating that it is unconstitutional on part of the civic body to shame people in such a way and force them to pay property tax arrears. He demanded that the civic body must not make use of brass bands for the purpose.
However, Gaikwad said, “The Pune Municipal Corporation is using the brass bands for the same purpose and has recovered a large amount of arrears from defaulters. We are also doing the same. There is nothing unconstitutional about it.”