Mumbai: The National Sports Club of India (NSCI), a prominent private club in Worli, situated on a prime sea facing municipal plot measuring 18 acres, owes Rs 39.82 crores to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in the form of property tax dues.
According to the civic body, the club has several property tax accounts, and payments of at least two of these accounts are due, the Free Press Journal has learnt. 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. No property tax was paid for that account in the 2015 financial year and till date," said a senior BMC official. The club, however, 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 told the Free Press Journal.
Maru added, "The new management took over only in November 2019. We are currently under the pandemic crisis, following which we got directives from the BMC who acquired the club premises and turned it into a jumbo COVID-19 isolation centre. But we have already communicated our stand on the property tax issue to the civic body and are looking forward to resolve it at the earliest." "Right now we want to focus on the isolation facility and support the civic body in its battle against the coronavirus,” added Maru.
As per the sanctioned development plan, the plot 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.