Nagpur Municipal Corporation
(NMC) is yet to levy and recover
for the last 45 years from the owners of
. The process to take possession of the lake has been started. The cash-strapped civic body will lose property tax in crores if the water body is taken over before assessment and recovery of the tax.
NMC has already incurred hefty loss due to delay in assessment of Sonegaon lake for levying property tax on the two owners — Dr Rekharani Bhiwapurkar and late Dr Sudha Sutaria. NMC cannot recover property tax going back more than six years. Thus, NMC has already lost tax for 39 years.
RTI activist TH Naidu has demanded an inquiry against officials who neglected or avoided collecting property tax on the water body. “The owners had procured the lake in an auction by Court of Wards falling under the district administration in 1971. Sale deed was executed between the Court of Wards and two owners in 1974,” he said.
Naidu obtained information related to property tax on the lake in August 2016. “I was shocked to get information that the NMC was not levying tax on the lake. I lodged a complaint with all officials, including civic chief for action against concerned officials. I also demanded NMC should at least start levying tax from now onwards. But property tax is not levied till date,” he said.
Since then, NMC has lost tax for two-and-a-half more years. The lake is spread over 16.42 hectare, so the property tax will run into crores.
A NMC official said Laxmi Nagar zone was asked to undertake assessment and levy property tax on the owners. “There is delay on the part of the zone. I will hold discussions and expedite the process,” he said.
The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court had last month disposed of a writ petition filed by Bhiwapurkar, and a PIL filed by Naidu and president of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Prashant Pawar. The HC allowed NMC to take possession of the lake and also start beautification project of Rs18.20 crore.
NMC town planning department has written a letter to district administration to initiate the process so that the civic body can take possession of the lake.
NMC sources told TOI the process is likely to be completed soon, so bhoomipuja of beautification project is held before code of conduct for Lok Sabha polls, which is likely in first week of March. “State government approved beautification project in July 2017. But the project was on hold due to petitions pending before the HC. Now, the petitions have been disposed of,” sources said.