New Delhi [India], July 20 (ANI/SRV): The Bengaluru City Corporation has witnessed a significant increase in property tax in the first two months of the 2022- 23 fiscal. Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has set an ambitious target of collecting Rs 5,500 crore from the property tax handle this year. Also, the city corporation has already collected over 2000cr which is significantly higher than the previous fiscal of which nearly 50 per cent was paid online by the property owners. Going forward, to meet its target the BBMP will establish a revenue vigilance squad to select random cases and cross-check the assessments made by revenue officers.
The enormous growth in numbers is a result of the Property Identification Number (PID Number) that was designed by the two-time corporator and former chairperson of the BBMP Committee for Taxation and Finance, Manjunath Raju. Manjunath Raju firmly believed that a city municipal corporation can bring about tangible differences in the lives of people only when it can generate higher revenues year after year. In the year 2011, Only about 8 lakh properties were under the tax net of BBMP. But the number of households with electricity meters suggested that 20 lakh electricity connections were provided and similarly 17 lakh water supply connections were provided to the properties in the city. The direct impact of inefficiency was on the honest taxpayers who suffered standing in long queues whereas most others found ways to evade paying property tax. It was not uncommon to see people having similar-sized plots paying varying amounts to BBMP and a considerable number of sites rented for commercial purposes being registered as residential use/self-use properties. This is when a geographic information system (GIS) based property identification (PID) number was envisaged by Manjunath Raju and subsequently rolled out. Through this distinctive, one-of-a-kind exercise, a combination of ward number - street number - plot number structure was followed and therefore every single plot within the civic body limits was assigned a unique property identification number. To put it succinctly, the PID number for properties is what Unique Identification Number (Aadhar) is for individuals.
The first such exercise in the country's history has been consistently giving higher revenues without burdening the citizens with increased tax rates. In a matter of a few months, the total properties under tax net doubled to nearly 16 lakh and the revenue generated from the property tax handle quadrupled from a paltry sum of 450 crores collected the previous financial year. The then deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia recommended the same for all the municipal corporations in India. The World e-governments Organisation of Cities and Local Governments (WeGO) awards that promote smart initiatives that use ICT to improve the quality of life of citizens recognized the PID system project and this illustrious award was bestowed on the Bangalore city corporation.
The beneficial effects of the well-oiled PID system are all-pervasive. The unique Road History system follows the same principle as PID. By identifying each road based on a definite numbering system linked to the unique ward and inter ward street numbers, double billing and duplication are avoided. The PID mapping has also made it easy for anyone to trace the length of Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) laid in a particular part of the city and has also been generating around 250cr revenue annually for the corporation. The data suggested that a considerable section of the city's property owners evaded paying water tax, and as a consequence of which the needy were left without tap water connections. Over the years, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has superimposed unique PID numbers with water meters and has achieved near-universal coverage. This has also increased its revenue by imposing a tax on sewerage lines as well as regularising unauthorized tap connections in the city.
It is indeed fortunate for a bustling city like Bengaluru to have such leaders who not only have passion but also deep expertise to usher in the landscape changes that the city deserves. The country is in dire need of more such thought leaders with the will and ability to embark on pathbreaking reforms.
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