Nagpur: In a significant development, the General Body Meeting (GBM) of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) passed a resolution and scrapped a notification about 100 per cent hike in the development charges.
Mayor Dayashankar Tiwari ordered cancellation of the notification issued by the NMC administration. The civic body had doubled the development charges in Nagpur with retrospective effect from July 2016. Subsequently, the development charges for residential constructions had gone up from 2% to 4% of the total cost of land and construction, while the charges were 8% instead of earlier 4% for commercial constructions.
The resolution tabled by Avinash Thakre, Ruling Party Leader, said that the NMC decision hit hundreds of builders and thousands of individual house owners who paid charges on or after June 30, 2016. For major projects, the additional charges ran into lakhs, said Thakre. Claiming that 5 per cent contribution towards Maha Metro project is paid, in fact in excess, the NMC House scrapped the notification increasing development charges to 100 per cent. The resolution was adopted at the general body meeting on Thursday with voice vote on the grounds that the House was not taken into confidence by Municipal Commissioner Radhakrishnan B when he notified the hike in January 2021.
While the civic administration claimed that the State Government had already approved the hike in development charges, the Corporators differed and stressed that the realty sector has suffered a setback due to the steep hike. On the demand from senior Corporator and MLC, Pravin Datke, the House went for vote on the resolution as ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried to escape criticism that the 100 per cent hike was approved in 2016. The implementation was, however, kept in abeyance till NMC notified and said, it would come into effect from the date Metro project was planned during start of the year.
There seemed to be confusion within the Ruling Party ranks during the general body meeting as initially Thakre had given a notice for adjournment motion seeking discussion on the pressing issue. Technically, debate was to be initiated after acceptance of the motion. But in a flurry of things, rules went by and notice for discussion changed into resolution in a flash.
Dharampal Meshram, a first time BJP Corporator, did try to intervene to seek a clarification whether the House was to vote for adopting notice for discussion or for adopting a resolution to scrap the notification. Picking up clues, the Ruling Party Leader quickly altered the stance and said he is moving a modification and moved the resolution to stay the effect of the civic notification that allowed backdated collection of development charges.
The State Government, in the year 2016, while sanctioning Nagpur Metro Rail Project, had allowed hike in development charges by 100 per cent. This was the one option among five provided to NMC, said Municipal Commissioner Radhakrishnan B for raising money to contribute 5 percent of total project cost for Nagpur Metro. The clarification failed to convince senior ruling party leaders who seemed determined to push through the matter.
Thakre’s contention and later supported by Datke was that since Rs 264 crore is with the State Government mopped up through 1 per cent surcharge on stamp duty, NMC’s 5 per cent contribution is on course of meeting the target. The two further contended that various land parcels provided to Metro for development plus cash contribution of Rs 63 crore means there is no necessity for continuing with 100 per cent hike in development charges. Since nearly 80 to 90 per cent contribution has already been raised, NMC can do away with the 100 per cent hike and provide relief to the realty sector. The balance due can be raised by the civic body through other means and citizens should be spared the unnecessary hike.
Thakre further said that the hike is too taxing for citizens and cited a case of Dhantoli wherein one individual is seeking to start construction on his 3,000 sq.ft. plot and is given demand for Rs 8 lakh plus as development charges. His contention was that as per Section 124 (B), it was mandatory to seek approval of NMC House and since the same was not done and even mentioned the note of then Additional Commissioner on proposal mooted by the Town Planning Department.