After The Free Press Journal reported that the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) in Worli owes Rs 39.82 crores to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the form of property tax dues, the civic body has said it has been in touch with the club management over the issue. The civic tax assessment and collection department has said that it will once again pursue the matter with the club’s management once the COVID-19 situation in the city normalises.
NSCI, a prominent private club in Worli, situated on a prime sea facing municipal plot measuring 18 acres, has been in the news after it gave away its premises to the civic body to create a jumbo COVID care facility and isolation centre with ICU beds.
BMC officials said they had issued two demand notices to the club’s management for payment of tax between 2015 and 2019.
"For one of the accounts the management has partly paid the tax till 2019. The issue of another account, where they have raised a dispute on water and sewerage tax, will be resolved soon too. We cannot blame them this year as we are all affected by the pandemic. However, we will be following up with them as per our protocol as soon as the situation normalises a bit," said Sangeeta Hasnale, Assistant Municipal Commissioner (tax assessment and collection department).
According to BMC's tax assessment and collection department, the club has several property tax accounts, and payments of at least two of these accounts are due. Dues amounting to Rs 11,45,20,810 are pending for an account in the name of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) Stadium of NSCI, while property tax of Rs 28,37,36,309 is pending for an account in the name of NSCI Sports Club.
"The payment for the second account (NSCI Sports Club) was done in parts until 2019, and the current arrears stands at Rs. 28.37 crores. Meanwhile, the other account in the name of SVP stadium, has arrears of Rs 11.45 crores due since March 2014. However, the club is currently focussed on the COVID care facility we have created on their premises. There were certain issues with the water and sewerage lines on the club premises, which have been resolved more or less. We will inspect it and follow up soon," said a senior BMC official.
The club has contested the property tax, citing an ongoing dispute. It said the civic body had levied the tax at much higher rates and that the management had already taken up the matter with the concerned department.
"The matter is under dispute as the penalty or charges levied on misuse of water line or sewerage etc is not acceptable to us. We are already discussing the matter with the said department and we will get this resolved at the earliest,"Atul Maru, honorary secretary of NSCI had told the Free Press Journal on July 22.
As per the sanctioned development plan, the plot on which the club stands is earmarked as a recreational ground (RG), and was leased to the club for sports activities in the late 90s'. In the recent past, the club courted several controversies allegedly for illegal alterations and violations of the terms of leases.
In 2018, a few members of the club had written to the BMC alleging mismanagement and misuse of funds. The members even alleged that the management of the club had violated the lease terms stipulated by the civic body. Following this the civic body had issued two notices to the club management. However, no action was taken.
The management, however, refuted these allegations and maintained that everything and every activity on the grounds and the venue of the club were as per the norms, and there had been no violations.