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BMC yet to find way to tax slums
August, 14th 2013

Even as many residents have complained of having to pay an increased property tax under the new system, a large section of the citizenry – Mumbai’s slum dwellers – will be exempt from the tax for at least another year.

The civic body has no format for taxing citizens living in slums at present, and the one it finalises on will take at least a year to implement.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked the Mumbai University to study different tax modules that can be used to levy property tax in slums. The university is expected to submit a report within 15 days.

“There is a long procedure to put the system into effect. After the university submits a report, we will consider the methodology to be used,” said Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, BMC.

More than 60 lakh city residents live in slums, and residents are not happy they have been left out of the tax calculation.

This year, the civic body implemented the capital value-based property tax system, which met with great opposition from residents and some activists.

The new system takes into account several factors, such as the age of the property, the ready reckoner rate, built-up area etc while calculating tax, and replaces the rateable tax system, which only took into account the rent a property fetches.

Many citizens were unhappy at the prospect of having to pay an increased tax amount.

“The tax calculation itself is unfair, what’s worse is that a huge number of residents have been left out of the system. When an RTI application was filed questioning why the BMC is not considering slum residents, I received seven to eight replies, in which each department kept passing the buck,” said Godfrey Pimenta, RTI activist who alleged vote bank politics as the main reason for exemption.

Residents now plan to start an online petition demanding slum residents be taxed at the same rate as other citizens, but civic officials said they are yet to take a call on this too.

“The rate of tax for slum dwellers will be decided in the coming months, and will be based on the facilities they get and the amount we spend on them.”

“All slum residents are ready to pay property tax provided they are given the rights to their property,” said Jameel Shaikh, an activist working for slum residents.

 
 
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