If the recent ultimatum issued by NMC Commissioner Shyam Wardhane to the property tax department is anything to go by, coming Saturday is going to be crucial for the department officials. Following an exhaustive meet last week, NMC’s top boss had issued stricture to the officials and employees, asking them to either complete the recovery target of pending property tax to the tune of Rs 400 crore or face the heat. On Saturday a review meeting will be held to gauge the outcome of last meeting. As the D-day approaches, there has been quite a storm among the officials over acknowledging their liability before the NMC chief.
Sources close to Wardhane revealed that he is averse to the policy of suspending defunct employees on the ground that the suspended official or employee will get 75 per cent salaries by just sitting without work. He was of the view that it is always a better proposition for the civic administration to pay them in full and force them to work towards bearing fruits. On the contrary, the Commissioner has been resorting to suspension of lower ranked employees and conveniently sparing and even protecting higher-ups. The top boss suspended two employees Giri and Patil in connection with Naivedyam Hall episode and left the former and present Ward Officer of Dharampeth Zone namely Rathod, Morone and Karade untouched despite the fact that show cause notices had already been served to them.
Chief plays spoilsport
According to sources, the property tax department has been running short of manpower the Commissioner is not providing the employees in sufficient numbers. At present, every tax Inspector has been burdened with responsibility of recovering the property tax from at least 1200-1300 units. The outcome of recovery of the targeted revenue is doomed by the suspension of the employees and subsequent additional responsibility to others in the midst of “peak hour” (January to March).
Defunct employees of other departments should be roped in
Sources suggested unless the Commissioner acts tough against the top officials instead of tax inspectors, the chances of targeted recovery of property tax are bleak. Moreover, if the Commissioner deploys non-functioning officials and employees of departments of Education, Health, LBT and Water Works in the recovery of property tax, it would prove beneficial for the NMC in filling its coffers, the sources said.
Big fishes remain untouched
Sourced informed that NMC has prepared a “hot” list of defaulting top guns in every Ward. But the irony of the fact is that the Head of the Property Tax Department, Ward Officers and Zonal chiefs, instead of recovering the hefty dues or initiating seizure of properties, have been utilizing their might to spare them from any punitive actions. Properties of only small defaulters were seized. The big defaulters enjoy their proximity with ward Corporators, office-bearers or the concerned officials. Sources claimed that NMC’s revenue deficit could be contained a great deal if full recovery is accomplished by the end of March.
Hidden agenda beneath
The transfer of NMC Commissioner, according to sources, has become a certainty. He has been reportedly trying hard to get relocated at the place of his choice. Wardhane wants be share a good rapport with the Chief Minister by upgrading his profile in terms of recovery of property tax. This way he would cover the setback he received from the LBT scheme drying out NMC coffers. With this aim in mind, the Commissioner has been cracking the whip on lower ranked employees and seeking cooperation of higher officials in achieving the desired target.
Big water tax defaulters being skipped
The NMC Commissioner has been noticing over 100 big Water Tax defaulters having their way. However the action is yet to be initiated. The responsibility of recovering the defaulting Water Tax dues lies with the Orange City Water (OCW) Company. However, since the OCW enjoys privilege of proximity with a political leader of ruling pary in NMC, the Company is caring a hoot for recovering the Water Tax from the defaulting bigwigs.
::: Rajeev Khushwaha