Anticipating exploitation of an amendment made four years ago to the MMC Act, 1888, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has clarified that the recovery of property tax from occupants of unauthorized buildings will not make the structures legal.
In April 2010, the state government had made an amendment to the act, authorizing the BMC to collect twice the property tax from occupants of illegal buildings. The section concerned, 152 (a) of the act, was inserted to introduce new property tax calculation structure. The section though is yet to be effective, that is, the bills are yet to be sent out to illegal property owners.
Even before this amendment is made effective, city corporators have been expressing fears that occupants of the unauthorized structures will exploit the bills issued to them by the BMC to claim legal status for their homes.
Independent corporator Vijay Tandel was the first councillor to make the demand. "The corporation provides all the basic amenities to owners of illegal constructions. Levying heavy penalty only is not going to suffice. Hence, I had made the demand," Tandel said.
Responding to the demand made by the public representatives, the civic body has taken the decision. "There is substance in the issue raised by the representatives. Hence, the bills we will issue will carry a warning that payment of twice the tax will still mean the structure is illegal," a senior civic official said, on condition of anonymity.
This means, people who are living in illegal building or have made unauthorized alterations to their homes/properties, will need to pay penalty in the form of twice the property tax charged for area occupied.
"We have already formed a committee under a former civic official to decide whether to impose the penalty with retrospective effect since 2010 when the amendment was made or 2014. We are also figuring out how much revenue we can garner. The committee's report shall be with us in a couple of months, following which we will start issuing bills," the official said.