Kolkata is all set to turn into a blue-and-white city during the Mamata government.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) announced Monday that if you paint your house’ exterior blue-and-white, you will be fully exempted from paying property tax to the government. The Trinamool Congress-run KMC has come up with a proposal to waive the property tax for 2014-15 if a residential building or house is painted in the party’s favorite color combination — white and sky blue.
“We will allow full waiver of property tax for 2014-15 if anybody wishes to paint his/her house or even apartment buildings, of course residential, in white and sky blue – the theme color for Kolkata,” city mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who chaired the Mayor-in-Council meeting on Monday, said.
BJP state president Rahul Sinha was quick to question the logic behind the move and said it would only increase the state’s financial burden.
“Why white and blue? The government has to go to the public and explain the reason for such a colour choice before taking up such schemes. However, this act of the KMC or to say of Mamata Banerjee, is a childish one which will put the already bankrupt civic body into further financial crisis,” Sinha said.
Congress municipal party chief Mala Roy termed it as a gimmick.
“This decision will not benefit the thousands of disputed property owners. It’s an arbitrary move and will see an early death in the court,” Roy claimed.
According to the KMC Act 1980, any decision to waive property tax for a full year needs the approval of the governor, which might put the entire initiative in jeopardy.
Questions have also been raised by the CPI(M) against the KMC move.
“To paint a two-storied house you need at least one lakh rupees, while you can avail only say `2,000 as waiver, which is your annual property tax. It’s not a buying proposition for the middle-class residents of Kolkata,” CPI(M) leader Rupa Bagchi argued.
Since coming to power, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had evinced interest in a theme colour for Kolkata and had zeroed in on the combination of white and sky blue.
Not wanting to be left behind, the KMC too had started painting all public places, including civic offices, bridges, flyovers, guard railings and road dividers, in the adopted colour combination.
HOWRAH: With an eye on boosting revenue, the Howrah Municipal Corporation announced a partial waiver for property and commercial tax on Tuesday. Under the waiver scheme, no penalty or interest need to be paid.
The KMC has already enforced such a scheme and has benefited greatly, said Howrah mayor Rathin Chakraborty. He said the last board, controlled by the Left Front, bungled in tax collection, resulting in tax default of around Rs 200 crore. “The state is supporting us, but we must be self-sufficient. The tax outstanding will be collected without burdening civilians,” the mayor added.
KOLKATA: For the next couple of months from now, the Mamata Banerjee government will not acquire any land from farmers even if it is required for government projects. The message has already reached government departments after the chief minister’s press meet with Anna Hazare in New Delhi on Wednesday. The Trinamool chief will champion the cause of farmers as she did earlier. All infrastructure projects in Bengal will therefore, have to wait till the Lok Sabha polls are over.
Mamata Banerjee doesn’t want any land controversy before the elections. State departments have been asked not to place any proposals for land acquisition for the time being. This even after the government has acquired land for several irrigation projects and those for Aila victims after the Trinamool chief came to power.
In a bid to deal with questions on why the state government will not acquire land for government projects when the Centre’s Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 is in place, it says that there is no need for land acquisition in the next couple of months. The central Act has given exemption to as many as 11 other central Acts under which land can be acquired for government projects. After all, acquisition falls under the Concurrent List while land and development come under the State List.
“No land acquisition proposal will be placed in the cabinet now till the procedures of the new land acquisition act are finalized and declared,” a state official said. The central Act however, doesn’t clarify whether the other land acquisition acts in Bengal empower the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation or the West Bengal Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation to acquire land.
The new central Act that applies to land acquisition, compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement, will work on any appropriate government, which needs to acquire land for its own use, hold and control, including the public sector undertakings and for public purpose. It will apply to infrastructure projects related to sports, tourism, healthcare, transportation, including projects for industrial corridors, mining activities, agro processing, warehouse and cold storage facilities, marketing infrastructure for agriculture and allied activities like dairy that are owned or set up by the government or by the farmers’ cooperative or by an institution that has been set up under a statute. The Act will also apply to public-private-partnership (PPP) projects, where the ownership of the land continues to vest with the government.
The Mamata Banerjee government announced a hands-off policy on land acquisition even before the promulgation of the Act. But, for that investors need to assure by way of an affidavit that they won’t purchase land forcibly from farmers. Under this rule, the government also reserves the right to cancel the project if it comes to know that land has been forcibly taken by the investor. Central public sector unit NTPC has to bend its rules and buy land on its own in Bengal when other state governments are acquiring land for the power utility.
KOLKATA: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has finally found a plot for setting up its second solid waste disposal ground. The civic body will use an area covering about 20 acres at Rajarhat New Town to develop a ‘waste-to-energy’ converting system that will be
an alternative site to the existing Dhapa ground which has become overburdened. The KMC will soon sign an MoU with the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) for this project.
“We will sign a MOU with the KMC authorities.
The KMC will develop the project on Action Area III. It will be a compact solid waste disposal ground from where energy generation will be done. The solid waste of New Town will also be disposed of at the site,” said Hidco chairman-cum-managing director Debashis Sen.
Officials said that the move of converting waste into energy will not only help the Hidco authorities to dispose of its huge waste accumulated daily at New Town, but it will also help them in making the township energy efficient and converting it into a solar city.
The solid waste from Salt Lake and Rajarhat is usually dumped at the Mollar Bheri, while the KMC’s solid waste is dumped at Dhapa. Both the dumping places have turned overburdened and a committee was also formed earlier by the government to find out an alternative site. The KMC and Hidco officials also started a search on their own.
In the master plan of New Town, a mouza called Beonta that’s located near Basanti Road was earmarked as a solid waste disposal area. However, the idea was later scrapped when the area was brought under the jurisdiction of the East Kolkata wetlands where no such waste dumping ground or construction is allowed. The authorities had earlier also explored whether any land on the canal side could be used for this purpose.
About three years back, KMC had started searching for suitable land for having an alternative dumping ground. The authorities started negotiations with farmers of various areas and also they started searching for land near Joka and Mahestala. However, the authorities did not find proper plot that can be an alternative to Dhapa. The civic body then started its search in the adjacent areas of Rajarhat.
KMC had earlier lost opportunity to pump in funds from The Asian Development Bank (ADB) for modernisation of solid waste management. Besides, under the Centre’s JNNURM scheme, a Rs 100 crore project proposal has been recently placed by KMC for modernisation of disposal of waste. However, the KMC had been asked to clarify as to what they had done to substitute the Dhapa ground.
Likewise, with the Mollar bheri ground getting exaustive, Hidco authorities had been searching for an alternative site, as Rajarhat New Town is expanding and will generate a huge amount of solid waste in the near future.
Bengal has rationalised property valuation by doing away with the discrepancies between the registration authorities and their actual market value. The move comes into effect across Kolkata and suburbs , sources in real estate body Credai said.
Earlier, the registered value of a property was anywhere between 10 and 50 per cent higher than the prevailing market rate. The difference between the market rate and the registered value was deemed as income and taxed.
“As a result of this discrepancy many people were either holding back their purchases or not registering their properties ,” Harsh Patodia, President, CREDAI-Bengal, said.
KOLKATA: The state Public Works department (PWD) have divided all its circles into three zones – North, West and South for better supervision and monitoring of development projects of various government department entrusted to PWD all over the state.
The PWD authorities were mulling on the plan to reorganise all its circles with the aim to implement the concept of coming up with three zones – North zone, West zone and South zone – so that the authorities can properly monitor and supervise all development projects that have been entrusted on them by the other departments. The PWD has several circles under the PWD road division, national highway and state highway division. Officials said that reorganising all its circles in the three zones will help them to manage their work more effectively.
Shankar Chakraborty, the new PWD minister after chief minister Mamata Banerjee made some reshuffling in the cabinet, sat with senior department officials at his room in Nabanna to get an idea on the overall situation and how things are to be done.
The state PWD is being entrusted by several government departments to execute various development projects. The authorities are working on projects of setting up schools, college buildings, hospitals and sports complexes in the Jangalmahal districts. The authorities have also been working to execute several road projects in several districts, mainly in Jangalmahal and North Bengal. Though some of the projects are going as per schedule, there are quite a few projects that are running late due to various reasons. By reorganising ands relocating the PWD circles into the three zones, the authorities will be able to effectively supervise projects, officials said.
The PWD have also been entrusted with the housing department’s pilot project of setting up motels along state highways like Digha Road, Basanti highway and Kalyani highway. The authorities had also taken up a project to set up government guest houses in Jhargram beside the Rajbari and few others places in the state.
KOLKATA: The absence of a clear motive and strong indication that an “insider” might be involved in the murder of an elderly citizen at Deshapriya Park has sent neighbours of this upscale locality in shock.
What adds to their anxiety is that Ranajit Chatterjee was being pursued by local promoters for the last two years to sell off his ancestral property worth crores now.
Chatterjee refused. Police say his daughter cannot recall if he was ever threatened for this, but they will investigate this angle. “After what transpired at Short Street, we can hardly take a chance,” said a senior officer.
Local residents – including actor Biplab Chatterjee – say the “profile” of their area changed a couple of years ago. “The construction boom caught on and promoters set up shop across the city. Our locality was no different. Now, lawlessness has come to such a level that bikers take over the entire area after 8.30 pm,” said Biplab.
A family friend of the Chatterjees said the promoters made their first move when highrises were beginning to come up in the area. Chatterjee told them that it was his ancestral property and he could not sell it because there were other claimants. But the realtors were not deterred.
Another resident, Ananda Maitra, blamed lax policing. “Three months ago, robbers raided a building adjacent to the Chatterjees’. No one has been arrested so far. Less than a year ago, Chatterjee’s trusted driver Bishu was beaten up when he protested against the harassment of girls of a local school by outsiders,” said Maitra.
Chatterjee was not covered in Kolkata Police’s Pronam project for the elderly.
Bengal has seen a steep rise in crimes against the elderly. Data from National Crime Records Bureau says that murder of elderly citizens shot up from 198 in 2011 to 320 in 2012, the bulk of it in Kolkata and the adjoining Howrah, South and North 24-Parganas.
Another intriguing fact is that while a majority of the victims (149) were women in 2011, the next year 263 men were murdered.
Recent instances suggest the crimes are not specific to traditional areas of the elderly, like Salt Lake. In July 2011, robbers murdered 93-year-old Shanta Bhattacharya in her Ultadanga apartment. Ironically, she had refused to move to a bigger house in central Kolkata because she felt safe in the housing complex.
“The lack of para culture in new residential areas makes it all the more difficult for aged people like me to seek aid from neighbours. Even if I scream for help, I doubt if anyone will come forward. Every senior citizen living alone is vulnerable,” said Sanghamitra Chatterjee an Ekdalia resident.