KOLKATA: Constructing a house in areas off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass is set to pinch you more. Apart from paying the building sanction fee to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), you will now have to pay a development fee to the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA).
Earlier, the KMDA used to collect a fee from the land owners who would obtain a building licence from the KMC. This fee was charged under West Bengal Town and Country Planning and Development Act (1979). However, this was applicable for those who would build their houses on either sides within 500 metres from the EM Bypass. Amid protests from KMC tax payers, the KMDA had withdrawn the development fee. This apart, the KMDA could not collect revenues due to lack of coordination with the KMC building department, as only the latter has the database of the applicants who are constructing buildings along EM Bypass.
As the KMDA started losing revenue, its senior officials are now keen to reintroduce the development fee. After the KMDA authorities expressed concern over the civic body’s apathy in letting the government body (KMDA) know about the applicants whom the civic body’s building department is sanctioning building plans.
Recently, senior KMDA officials held a meeting with the KMC top brass at the civic headquarters to find a solution to this problem. After discussing the matter at length with the KMDA officials, the KMC officials suggested that civic body’s building department would collect the development fee and deposit the same with the former.
However, a section of residents along the living on both sides of the EM Bypass is upset over such a decision. Arjun Sen, owner of a three-cottah plot in Anandapur, said: “Why this double-taxation? First, if I am paying the KMC to get my building plan sanctioned, why should I pay a development fee to another government agency KMDA? If I knew about the dual taxation, I would not have invested in the land,” Sen, who is a software engineer, said.
Bithika Saha, a resident of Mukundapur, came down heavily on the civic authorities and the KMDA. “Ever since we have settled in Mukundapur five years ago, we have been paying house tax regularly. But, what was the return from the civic authorities? Acute water scarcity, flooding in the area every monsoon and bad roads are common features here. This dual taxation is surely going to make the situation worse,” she alleged.
Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said that after taking up the matter with Firhad Hakim, the state urban development minister, it has been decided that the KMC would collect the development fee on behalf of the KMDA and later remit the same to the state government. “We want to end the harassment of the land owners along EM Bypass. They don’t have to run to the KMDA to pay the development fee and get an NOC from it. We will collect the development fee along with the KMC building sanction fee and later remit the KMDA fee to them,” Chatterjee said.