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Special fire tax, stringent safety norms on cards
October, 04th 2012

With the state government proposing to implement the Fire (Safety and Protection) Act, it is planning to collect fire tax from all buildings. Anybody who fails to pay fire tax along with municipal taxes could be punished with minimum amount of Rs 25,000.

The fire tax will be levied as per the size and usage of the building or structure - from 1% to 4% of the property tax. In case of large-size structures like malls, there will be 4% fire tax over the total property tax.

Besides taxation, the occupiers of buildings will be responsible to maintain fire safety systems, or else they will be liable for prosecution. Disconnecting water and electricity connections is not the danger that owner or occupier faces in case of cancellation of fire NOC. The proposed act may provide that such owner or occupier will not be able to occupy the building or premises on the grounds of non-compliance of fire safety measures.

A high-level fire safety committee has proposed the provision of levying such tax in the proposed Fire (Safety and Protection) Act. The committee's report was submitted by advocate general Kamal Trivedi in the Gujarat high court on Wednesday as per the court's instructions issued in the proceedings over a PIL filed by advocate Amit Panchal.

The report says that states like Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have their own state level Fire Safety Acts. Gujarat does not have such legislation, which therefore, results into different procedures being adopted from place to place. Therefore the committee has suggested modifications in General Development Control Rules ( GDCR) related to fire safety measures for implementation of the fire act in the entire state.

Besides taxation, the proposed law demands to make it mandatory for occupier of building to undertake necessary maintenance activity and keep the fire service system fully functional, failing which occupier will be liable for prosecution and fine.

The occupiers will have to declare every year before the Chief Fire Officers that the fire safety systems are in place and in best shape.

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