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House tax issue dominates maiden session of Jalandhar's new municipal corporation
December, 18th 2012

The first meeting of the new house of municipal corporation on Monday evening was not only lengthy, but also proved to be stormy as the major issue of heavy dues of house tax not being recovered from big institutions and the MC rather opting to avail loans, even as it was facing financial crisis, occupied the centre-stage in the proceedings.

Congress councilor Shrawan Grover raised the issue that after a RTI application, MC officials "discovered" that DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology (DAVIET) was liable to pay house tax of Rs 1.80 crore annually and then the concerned department sent a notice to the institute for the same.

Grover pointed out that MC officials conveniently forwent house tax for ten years - which accumulated to Rs 18 crore -- as the institute was working for the last eleven years. Congress councilors also demanded that a vigilance inquiry be ordered into the issue to fix responsibility as to who was responsible for not even levying the house tax.

While it became evident from MC's own notice to DAVIET that they were to recover dues of Rs 18 crore from a single institute, it was pointed out by the councilor that MC was availing a loan of Rs 15 crore from Jalandhar Improvement Trust. The councilors also pointed out that other DAV institutes were also not being levied house tax. Some BJP councilors also advocated recovery of house tax from such institutes.

Mayor Sunil Jyoti said that he would get the issue examined by a forming a committee.

Meanwhile, Congress councillor Jagdish Raj Raja, who is also leader of the Congress party in the house, said that two contractors of MC for maintenance of street lights were committing several violations, but they were not being fined. If they were fined as per the agreement, then fine for his ward alone comes to Rs 1.70 lakh. If all the wards would be checked, then cumulatiave fine could run into crores of rupees, he said. Congress and BJP councilors said that MC should immediately make the recoveries for increasing its own income.

Interestingly, proximity of one contractor to a former SAD minister is well known and a couple of months ago, a photojournalist of a Hindi daily was electrocuted by a naked wire lying on the road.

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