Mumbai, Dec 20: The Navi Mumbai property tax bills for the year 1998 have taken residents by complete surprise. The property bills show the City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to be the lessor of all the properties (both land and building) and the allottees as the lessees. In reality only the land, which is just 1 per cent of the total value of the developed land, is on a 60-year lease from CIDCO.
An expert on property tax issues PN Padmanabhan says, "Since the property tax is the total value of the property, the tax charged would mean that both land and building has been given on lease by CIDCO."
NMMC Commissioner Subhash Chander Bhakre says, "By the new billing pattern we are only doing what should have been followed earlier. CIDCO has leased out the property and therefore CIDCO is stated as lessor. If the residents are confused over the new system they are free to raise the issue with the NMMC."
There are over 5,000 housing societies in Navi Mumbai and over 1,200 private bungalows, all ofwhich has taken the land on a 60-year lease and constructed multi-storeyed buildings on it. While the land cost would be just 1 per cent of the value of the building, CIDCO has the right to execute lease agreements only with respect to the land, says Padmanabhan.
The addition of the words lessor and lessee in the new tax bills have brought about a confusion in the minds of the tax payers. The residents association are saying, "The lease agreement on the land and apartments is between CIDCO (lessor) and residents (lessees). NMMC does not come into the picture at all.
"For that agreement, NMMC becomes a third party. As a third party, for collection of any dues against leased property, should the lessee pay the dues against leased properties to the lessor or the third party, that is NMMC, which is actually claiming it."
Bungalow-owners association secretary KV Krishan says, "Property ownership pattern in Navi Mumbai is not clear. Even CIDCO is not the owner, it was only appointed as a developer for theproperty originally acquired by the government."
Prior to the formation of the NMMC the bills were issued in the name of the allottees or holders of property by CIDCO. After NMMC came into being in 1994 the bills were being issued in the name of the allottees. It is only in the current year that NMMC started this new practice of issuing bills, with CIDCO as the lessor.
CIDCO officials when contacted only said, "CIDCO no doubt is the lessor as the entire land at Navi Mumbai belongs to CIDCO. Land is only allotted on lease for residential and commercial purposes to individuals and corporates. But the property tax matters are the purview of the NMMC."
The government of Maharashtra acquired thousands of acres of land from the villagers and, thereafter, entrusted CIDCO with the job of developing it in the early seventies.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.