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Mumbai

Updated on: Saturday, June 01, 2019, 09:14 PM IST

Why this Kolaveri-Di over LBT?

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For all those Navi Mumbaikars who suffer endless traffic jams at Mankhurd octroi check-post, the abolition of the retrograde tax system is welcome news!

For many of us, octroi is synonymous with harassment. This was exactly why the entire business community had unitedly fought the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) move to impose octroi in the early nineties. In fact, CIDCO had even reclaimed a piece of land from the creek, opposite Vashi village, for the octroi check-post.

Traders and the business community won their fight against octroi and held a victory rally on the same plot, proclaiming: Octroi Rests Here! That spoke volumes about the opposition to the dreaded octroi.

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NMMC, after its first elections in 1995, introduced an entry tax in the form of cess effective June 1, 1996 and it wasn’t opposed. The cess continues at an affordable 0.2% to 1%.

But all hell broke loose as the civic body toed the state government’s line to implement Local Body Tax (LBT) with effect from April 1. It couldn’t have been dismissed as a cruel April Fool joke as the impact of a sudden jump from 1% to 7% was something that the business community wasn’t prepared for.

Here, it must be remembered that the wholesale traders from congested Mumbai were lured in to shift to the APMC yards with several sops like freedom from octroi check-posts, improved logistics, housing and bungalow plots, club house for merchants and even a school plot.

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Logically arguing, LBT has no place in NMMC area as the tax has been mooted to replace octroi and eliminate the check-posts at city entry points. Navi Mumbai has no history of octroi posts.

Hopefully the powers that be will soon realize the folly of opting for LBT and revert to the cess method of taxation.

Much like the East and West Germans who waited for about three decades for the demolition of the Berlin Wall, road travellers between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai are also waiting with bated breath for the dismantling of the octroi check-post at Mankhurd. For many of us removal of the octroi bottleneck means freedom to travel without traffic jams, an occasional police naka-bandi notwithstanding!

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Moving on to another aspect of life in Navi Mumbai, the civic authorities appear to have taken note of a suggestion by Adi-Vashi to name and shame illegal structures by declaring the lists of buildings without occupancy certificates or OCs on the civic body website. An OC assures the buyer that everything about the particular building is all legal and safe.

Some corporators had suggested that NMMC should put up signs at unauthorized structures but then it would have been a humongous task considering the extent of unauthorized constructions and encroachments that have gone unchecked in this so-called planned city. NMMC has put up a list of some 370 buildings without OCs.

Before you plan to buy a house in this area, please check this link: http://www.nmmconline.com/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=7e3573ff-ed37-4dc9-807f-8fd89a967e8f&groupId=10156.

Ironically though, NMMC has also given OCs even before the construction certificate was issued! This came to light in the corporation’s own report about 21 high-rise buildings on Palm Beach Road that have unauthorized floors ranging from three to eight. Was it a case of self-goal or hit-wicket?

Navi Mumbai, though a new city, continues to grapple with old problems of indiscriminate road digging – now in the name of pre-monsoon repairs. Many roads in Kopar Khairane are in a permanent dug-up condition obviously because there is no VIP traffic here. What is even more pathetic is the horrible condition of roads that are supposed to have been repaired after the digging is over. This feature is uniform all across the NMMC area.

Be that as it may, Navi Mumbai is all set to create a record with Aadhar ID cards. NMMC with its concerted efforts has already enrolled over 80% people under Aadhar and is now gearing up for a 100% registration. The civic body facilitated 20 enrolment centres with 60 machines all across the nodes from Belapur to Digha.

Meanwhile the city is all set to embrace the 4G technology with NMMC okaying 25-30 meter-high ground based masts – or telecom towers in normal parlance – to be installed by Reliance Jio Infocomm of Mukesh Ambani led Reliance group. These towers will be set up at 126 places across the city and will help NMMC and the people derive the high-tech benefits of 4G technology within the next six months.

This is the 23rd in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long-time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted at: mailbnk@gmail.com

B N Kumar

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Published on: Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 12:10 AM IST
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