August 29, 2021

AP: United Forum Protests against Urban Reforms

B Tulasidas

THE people of urban Andhra Pradesh are in protest against the hike in property tax and imposition of user charges for garbage collection.

The state government has issued a GO to change the system of levying property tax from annual rental value basis (ARV) system to capital value (CV) system. As per the GO, the capital value of lands and buildings fixed by the Stamps and Registration Department for the purpose of registration will be deemed to be the guideline value for fixation of property tax. According to this, the zones and localities of the building along with their boundaries, classification of the building, usage of the building, age of the building, plinth area etc., will be taken into consideration for determining the capital value. 

This move was part of the urban local bodies (ULBs) reforms, one of the reforms stipulated by the union ministry of finance, for states to qualify for additional borrowing rights. These reforms involve a hike in property tax and user charges for water, sewerage and drainage, in the name of increasing the revenue of ULBs. The burden would be about Rs10,000 crore per annum.

The Andhra Pradesh Urban Citizens Federation (APUCF) and several citizen rights’ groups have been protesting against the steps in front of the municipal corporations and municipality offices across the state. They have demanded the state government to withdraw its recent amendments to the municipal laws and bring back the earlier system of levying taxes.

In continuation of the agitation, APUCF, Visakhapatnam Apartments Welfare Association (VARWA), Greater Visakha Colony Welfare Federation (NIVAS), Tax Payers Association (TPA) have organised an online convention on August 22. Around 250 organisations representing various urban local bodies across the state participated in it.

Inaugurating the convention, EAS Sarma, former secretary of government of India said that levying capital value based tax system is unconstitutional. The way the state government promulgated the ordinance and the GOs is quite undemocratic, he said. K S Lakshmana Rao, MLC, said that the government has not discussed the issue in the assembly and the council. S Rajendra Prasad, member of AP Bar Council, Ch Baburao, convener of APUCF and others also opposed the new tax regime.

The convention called for a state-wide protracted protest against the Capital Value (CV) based property tax and to oppose user charges for garbage collection. A united forum has been formed with EAS Sarma as its honorary president and K S Lakshmana Rao as the president to continue the agitation.