गुरुवार, 2 सितंबर 2010

For close to 10 years, BMC taxed Mumbaikars twice for sewerage

It’s a goof-up that had a rather long life — 10 years almost. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been charging the same tax twice from many of the city’s residents. It collects the sewerage tax along with the assessment tax (property tax).

The same tax is again levied along with water bills. But for a query under the RTI Act, it would have continued unnoticed. Citizens, who wanted the civic body to make amends, have got the excess amount they forked out refunded.

The BMC collects the sewerage tax towards disposal of sewage. It collected Rs21 crore in 2007-08 and Rs23 crore in 2008-09 on this head under two heads — property tax and water tax. The sewerage charge constitutes 60% of actual water charges.

A senior official from the assessor and collector department of the BMC admitted that they are charging the tax twice in some cases. “Our department charges the sewerage tax on the basis of the value of the property in question,” he said.

An officer from the water department informed they charge according to the meter reading. “There is a possibility of it (the same tax being levied twice). But it is not deliberate. The civic body’s refunding the excess collection for ten years,’’ he added.

According to the BMC, 13,000 persons have applied seeking refund of the excess amount. It has settled 10,446 applications so far and rejected 1,782. The total amount refunded is Rs34,21,59,208.

Explaining the issue, SS Shinde, joint municipal commissioner, said: “The BMC charges the sewerage tax on rateable value of the property if the water supply in it is non-metered. However, a large number of buildings have installed water meters to pay the actual charge for water usage.

“In many cases, while the water department charged sewerage tax according to the water meter reading, the assessment department continued charging it as before. It is because the department did not have information that the building has installed water meters.”

He said the issue was being resolved.

The issue came to the fore following an application under the Right to Information Act by Anil Galgali. He was provided the information by 20 wards of the civic body.

The Suburbs

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