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Water woes

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Source : The Hindu Date : 22.06.2009

Water woes

When we were paying Rs. 1,200 a year to the Salem Municipal Corporation as water tax, we were able to get drinking water to some extent.

But today, paying a higher rate of Rs.1,800 a year and not getting adequate water supply in almost all the municipal wards is really very pathetic.

The duration in supplying water – once a week or once in ten days – is too short.

Many times we are forced to buy water from outside agencies.

It may not be possible for the middle class and lower income groups to buy water.

Almost daily we come across road blockades by residents of one part of the city or the other. Another main reason for the inadequate supply of water is the illegal drawing of water by certain anti-social elements directly from the municipal corporation pipes, using a motor pump set.

Many of them may not know that it is a criminal offence and their water connection may be disconnected permanently.

Surprise checks combined with a strict and unbiased action by the Corporation authorities would go a long way in solving the drinking water shortage in the city.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 June 2009 04:25

GIS Systems Helps Chennai Corporation ears Rs.70 cr more

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Source : The Business Line Date : 09.03.2009

GIS system helps Chennai Corpn earn Rs 70 cr more

Correct assessment of commercial property tax.

Mr Rajesh Lakhoni

M Ramesh
S Bridget Leena

Chennai, March 8 Backed by technology, the Corporation of Chennai has earned Rs 70 crore more this financial year only through correct assessment of commercial property tax.

A GIS-based application has helped the Corporation of Chennai ensure that commercial establishments in its jurisdiction state the extent of their property correctly for the purpose of paying property tax.

“It helped us control under-assessment,” says Mr Rajesh Lakhoni, Corporation’s Commissioner. In 2007-08, it collected Rs 230 crore from property tax levies; in the current year, it expects to secure at least Rs 300 crore.

He said that the corporation has got an agency to map 40 sq km of Chennai city. It expects to get the other 140 sq km done by June, after which it would have a high-resolution digital map of the city, “upon which we plan to run several exiting applications.”

These maps are made by film-shoots from low flying aircraft. Hence they are much better in resolution than, say, Google Earth.

Once the project is over, many initiatives are possible, Mr Lakhoni said. For example, prepaid car services can calculate the exact distance between two locations and charge the customer accordingly.

The corporation has also seen windfall revenues from another stream: advertisements from the new bus shelters. The corporation has been pulling down existing shelters and building new, flashy ones, with considerable space for advertisements. In the current year, the corporation is sure of getting Rs 30 crore from advertisers.

Unfortunately, the corporation could not similarly replicate this model on its proposed foot-over-bridge plan. Earlier, the plan was to put up a series of foot-over-bridges across main roads with escalators, so that pedestrians could cross over easily.

Advertisements Act

A view of the Ripon Building which houses the Corporation of Chennai

This is because under the Advertisements Act, hoardings cannot be put up, except on utilities, public conveniences and bus shelters. It is not quite clear why it is alright for a bus shelter to carry a hoarding and a similar activity can’t be done on a foot-over-bridge.

Each foot-over-bridge with escalator costs Rs 2.5 crore. If there had been scope for advertisements, they could have paid for themselves. The corporation is planning to put up a few “with our own money”, but for now, Chennai pedestrians will have to cut the traffic to cross over.

Mr Lakhoni pointed out that the corporation’s budget had doubled in the last two years, to around Rs 1,600 crore for 2008-09. It got Rs 600 crore from taxes and another Rs 400 crore from the State Government as its share of tax collections. Another Rs 150 crore came from measures such as the charges on bus shelter advertisements. The rest came from the Union Government under the ‘Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission’ scheme.

Mr Lakhoni expects the budget for 2009-10 to be around the same level as the current year.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 07:46

Chamber plea on property tax

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Source : The Business Line Date : 17.03.2009

Chamber plea on property tax

Madurai, March 16

The Tamilnadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry has made an appeal to the Madurai Corporation to collect only the pre-hike tax from property owners till the release of the study report by the Official Committee appointed by the Tamilnadu Government. Mr S. Rethinavelu, Senior President of the Chamber, in a release said, that the rental value fixed by the Corporation in the recent revision of tax rates had been clearly in contravention of the guidelines issued by the Tamil Nadu Government and the Chamber has been persistently demanding the need to substantially bring down the rates that were sought to be enforced without interaction with any public organisations.- Our Correspondent

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 10:31

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