'It's All Politics': Residents From 34 Merged Villages React To Ajit Pawar's Instruction To PMC To Reduce Property Tax

'It's All Politics': Residents From 34 Merged Villages React To Ajit Pawar's Instruction To PMC To Reduce Property Tax

The Maharashtra government has established a committee chaired by the Pune Divisional Commissioner to address the basic facilities in the 34 villages recently merged into the PMC

Ankit ShuklaUpdated: Saturday, March 16, 2024, 03:02 PM IST
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Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) | Anand Chaini

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has directed Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials to reduce the property tax for the recently merged 34 villages. This decision follows complaints from residents about the excessive property tax being imposed on these areas, despite the lack of basic amenities.

Pawar emphasised the unfairness of charging property tax that is three to ten times higher than what was previously levied by the village panchayats. He instructed officials to ensure that the PMC's property tax does not exceed double the previous tax rate. "Instructions were given in a meeting held with the Urban Development Secretary that the action to amend the law should be started immediately,” he added.

However, civic officials caution that the process may be lengthy, requiring amendments to state laws. Moreover, with the model code of conduct now in place, any law amendments are unlikely to proceed.

Meanwhile, residents have expressed scepticism about Pawar's announcement, alleging political motives ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, as many of these villages fall under either the Baramati or Shirur Lok Sabha constituencies, which Pawar's party will be contesting.

Speaking to The Free Press Journal, Anil Kumar Mishra, resident of Wagholi and founder of Team Wagholi Against Corruption (Team WACO), questioned the rationale behind collecting property tax when basic facilities are lacking. He highlighted issues such as water management, road conditions, drainage, and waste management, which continue to plague the area despite promises of development.

Rohit Kotwal, a resident of Manjiri, echoed similar sentiments. He said, "I have received the property tax three months ago, but I haven't paid it yet as not a single facility has been provided in Manjiri. If the PMC cannot provide basic facilities then it is unfair to collect taxes from us."

Recently, residents from some of the 34 villages organised a rally to protest against the high property taxes imposed by the PMC. Uttamnagar, Shivane, Kondhwe, and Kopre villages were among those represented in the rally, which culminated at the Shivane ward office.

Approximately 2.4 lakh taxpayers reside in these 34 merged villages, with half of them paying taxes out of fear of incurring a two per cent penalty for late submission.

What are the residents' concerns?

- Residents lamented the absence of essential facilities, particularly in road infrastructure. They highlighted the poor condition of roads and other vital infrastructure elements

- These villages are grappling with a severe water shortage, compelling residents to rely on water tankers for their daily needs. Additionally, connecting water pipelines remain incomplete, exacerbating the water scarcity issue

- Residents argue that the property tax levied by the PMC far exceeds what they used to pay under the gram panchayat. They have urged for a reduction in property tax rates to align with the services provided

Committee formed

The Maharashtra government has established a committee chaired by the Pune Divisional Commissioner to address the basic facilities in the 34 villages recently merged into the PMC. This committee comprises nine public representatives, including Pandurag Khese for Lohegaon and Wagholi, Baburao Chandore for Sus, Mhanlunge, and Bavdhan, Dattatray Dhankawde for Narhe, Shivane, Uttamnagar, and Dhayari, Rakesh Kamthe for Undri, Pisoli, and Wadachiwadi, Bhagwan Bhadale for Mantarwadi and Uruli Devachi, Shantaram Katke for Katkewadi and Wagholi, Ganesh Dhore for Dhore Wasti, Phursungi, and Bhekrai Nagar, Rahul Pokle for Dhayri, and Ajit Ghule for Manjari.

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