VIJAYAWADA: The cash-strapped Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has started generating some revenue by cracking down on the tax defaulters. It has intensified the drive to realise the tax arrears from these people by attaching their properties and disconnecting drinking water and drainage connections in their houses under the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation Act (HMC Act).
The VMC has finally taken up this totally unconventional method to bring the defaulters to the tax counters as most of the people are not paying various taxes, including property tax, water tariff and drainage cess (in the case of houses) and vacant land tax (in the case of land) for the past few months. In this context, the effort of the VMC to shame the top 50 defaulters by uploading their details on its official website does not seem to have had any effect on them.
“Though we have issued notices to the tax defaulters many times, they have not responded and we are going to take stringent action against them under HMC Act, in which their properties will be seized and the civic services will be stopped,” explained VMC Commissioner G Veerapandian.
The VMC is making all efforts to find out the tax-defaulters by conducting a door-to-door survey in the city. Till now, the survey has been completed in respect of 27,579 houses in Circle-3 and the officials have identified 6,535 houses as underassessed and 568 houses as unassessed. The commissioner has ordered the officials concerned to issue legal notices to the owners of these underassessed and unassessed houses asking them to pay the correct dues immediately.
“We have completed 37 per cent of revenue survey in the city and we will not allow any defaulter to get away. We have already issued notices to the defaulters and if they do not respond, then we will seize their properties or discontinue the civic services,” he explained.
At a review meeting on Sunday, Municipal Administration minister P Narayana had made it clear that the government would no longer release the funds as and when the VMC wanted them and that it would have to generate its own revenue.
Following this, there were rumours that the VMC would increase the property taxes. However, the municipal commissioner and mayor Koneru Sridhar dispelled the rumours and said that the VMC would instead generate some revenue by cracking down on the tax-defaulters.
“In the city, as many as 70 per cent of the people are not paying the taxes regularly to the corporation and with the present survey, we are going to make them to cough up the dues. In the past few months, the revenue generated through the collection of property tax dues alone increased from Rs 72 cr to Rs 80 cr and with the help of the data collected from the survey, 30 to 40 per cent more revenue will be generated,” said Sridhar.
However, the left parties are criticizing the VMC for allegedly sparing the government offices and private institutions, which are major tax defaulters, in the tax-collection drive while targeting the common people.
“Having no other sources of income, most people have set up small shops in their houses and with this survey, the VMC will be collecting residential as well as commercial tax from them, which will affect the livelihood of these poor people,” said CPM city secretary Ch Babu Rao.
He criticised the VMC for indirectly hiking the property tax with this survey and for engaging its entire staff in the revenue survey and neglecting all other civic services.