Mobile Towers Account for Rs 2,427 Crore: PMC’s Struggle with Property Tax Default Exposed

Pune, India – A recent Right to Information (RTI) query has brought to light a staggering property tax default of Rs 5,182 crore owed to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Out of a total of 1,746 cases, a substantial portion of Rs 2,427 crore is linked to mobile towers, revealing a concerning financial mismanagement scenario within the city’s administration.

Vivek Velankar, president of Sajag Nagrik Manch, obtained these alarming statistics through his RTI application and expressed concern over the focus on minor debtors instead of pursuing recovery efforts from substantial defaulters. The PMC’s legal department, facing bureaucratic hurdles and difficulties in court hearings, is struggling to address the issue.

Nisha Chavan, head of PMC’s legal department, acknowledged the challenges, stating, “The property arrears of the mobile towers are the highest and pending. But we are trying our level best to solve the cases and attend the hearings. However, the multiple owners of the mobile towers most of the time do not attend the hearings.”

The property tax collection efforts by PMC, including symbolic gestures like playing drums outside defaulters’ homes, have not yielded significant success, according to observers. The massive property tax arrears highlight the urgent need for effective debt recovery measures and streamlined legal proceedings.

Huge Arrears: The Rs 5,182 crore property tax arrears represent a significant strain on PMC resources, with two cases involving arrears totaling Rs 565 crore and 1,061 cases related to mobile towers amounting to Rs 2,427 crores. The legal department faces challenges with 94 cases pending in various courts, involving an impounded amount of Rs 988 crore.

Legal Ways: Despite efforts by PMC’s legal department, bureaucratic hurdles and prolonged legal proceedings hinder the resolution of outstanding cases. Vivek Velankar calls for the establishment of a special cell within the municipal law and property tax department to expedite the adjudication of these matters.

Govt Departments: Significant sums are owed by government entities such as the Defence Department, Mahavitran, and the Irrigation Department. Velankar stresses the need for accountability and proactive measures to address the PMC’s financial obligations, highlighting the urgency of resolving disputes and expediting recovery.

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