BENGALURU: Ninety-year-old Colonel T George is a war hero. He won a Gallantry Award in the 1971 India Pakistan War. For the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, however, none of that matters.
Last year, Colonel George, a resident of Defence Colony in Indiranagar, was forced to pay up `18,485 in excess of the property tax he used to pay to the BBMP. He was told that it would be adjusted against this year’s property tax.
The Colonel waited for a year but the money was neither refunded nor adjusted. With Thursday being the last day to avail the 5 per cent rebate on tax, he decided to visit the BBMP head office on Tuesday as a last-ditch effort to get his money.
Over the past few days, there has been a mad scramble at the BBMP office with hundreds of people facing the same problem and seeking to get the money adjusted before Thursday. The problem was the fallout of a BBMP zonal reclassification that led to a tax revision.
After people paid the raised taxes, BBMP sent out a clarification, saying only 20 per cent needed to be paid. For those who had already paid, the civic body promised adjustment in this year’s tax, which never happened for many, including Col George.
As Joint Commissioner (Revenue) M Venkatachalapathy wasn’t available, the Colonel and others were directed to meet Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Prasanna Kumar. But not before getting the latest bank statement stamped and attested by the branch manager proving that BBMP has been credited with excess amount.
The Colonel has difficulty in hearing and uses an aid. His wife, 80-year-old Prabha, with all papers in hand, waited with him at the office. “We came at 11 am and have been made to run around. We went to the bank and got everything they asked for. The deputy commissioner still hasn’t shown up,” she said. The time then was 3 pm.
She had a letter addressed to the joint commissioner that has a stamp of receipt. “We paid `82,355 as property tax last year at Canara Bank. But we got a receipt for only `63,870. We have paid `18,485 in excess. We have made more than 10 visits to the BBMP office in the past one year but they are not adjusting the amount in their software. One year is more than enough for this. Others in our family have to go to work. We have to follow this up ourselves. My husband is a war hero and this is how they treat him,” she lamented.
When Kumar finally met the old couple, he asked them to pay the property tax in full and wait for the adjustment to be made next year. Prabha has, however, decided to let go of the rebate and not pay this year’s property tax till their money is refunded. “He has fought a war, now he is made to fight with his own people,” she rued.
When Express questioned Kumar, he surprisingly took it lightly. “If not this year, they will get the money next year,” he said.
BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad said he will instruct the deputy commissioner to look into the Colonel’s case and adjust the amount immediately.