The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) standing committee, on Friday, postponed the administration's proposal to increase fire safety charges in Mumbai.
Earlier, on June 30, the proposal to hike the charges was tabled for the first time at the standing committee meeting. Committee members across party lines had opposed the proposal and said that the hike will not be right at a time when Mumbaikars are facing financial crisis owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration, in a written reply to the committee, had said that the public would not bear the brunt. The charges would be recovered from builders and tabled the proposal yet again on Friday, seeking its clearance.
Yashwant Jadhav, standing committee chairperson, on Friday, instructed the administration to submit an overall statistical report of the amount that is due and how the administration intends to recover it. "Even though the administration has said that common citizens will not be affected, the committee is not satisfied, which is why we have asked them to submit a proper set of guidelines on how they want to recover the charges," Jadhav said.
The proposal of fire safety charges first came into force in 2014. However, in the last seven years, BMC didn't collect the amount. At present, it has an outstanding of Rs 1,400 crore. Senior officials have maintained that charges were not levied in seven years as the issue was stuck in red-tapism between BMC and the state government.
"We have also asked the management to submit data of the outstanding dues, including the name of those who owe the money," he said.
Meanwhile, senior officials of BMC said that implementation of the charges was necessary, as it would have been used to upgrade the fire safety infrastructure of the city. "BMC has exempted charitable organisations and old age homes from paying the fees. The money collected under this will be used in establishing new fire stations and upgrading the fire fighting logistics," the official said.