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BMC can’t collect advertisement tax for hoardings on rly land: HC

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The Times of India       28.12.2017  

BMC can’t collect advertisement tax for hoardings on rly land: HC

| Updated: Dec 25, 2017, 04:02 IST
(Representative image)
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has directed the Indian Railways to formulate a policy for putting up hoardings on its properties that takes into consideration the safety of the public.
A division bench of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Sandeep Shinde passed the orders while thwarting a bid by the BMC to collect "advertisement tax" for the hoardings that are put up on railway land but face public roads.

There are 225 such hoardings on lands owned by Central Railways and 240 on lands owned by Western Railways that reportedly earn over Rs 60 crore revenue annually. The court held that BMC permission was not needed for the hoardings on railway land and neither could the corporation collect a "fee" from the hoarding owners. The bench, however, expressed concern over the haphazard manner in which hoardings are put up.

"We are of the considered view that erection of hoardings in haphazard manner thereby endangering the safety of citizens would not be in the larger public interest," said the division bench. It gave the railways six months to come up with a policy "for regulating the hoardings on the railway properties, after taking into consideration various statutory provisions, so as to ensure that the hoardings are not erected in haphazard manner, that there is no overcrowding of the hoardings and that the safety of citizens is not endangered." The judges said they would appreciate it if the railways involved the BMC while framing a policy for the city.

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The high court, in 2001, in a PIL about illegal hoardings, directed the municipal corporation to formulate policy guidelines for grant of permission for display of sky-signs and advertisements. Between 2008 and 2010, various directions were passed by the high court on the issue. In 2014, the commissioner asked the railways not to put up hoardings on railway properties which are visible from a public road without first obtaining permission. The BMC's demand for a fee for such hoardings was challenged by the railways as well as hoarding owners.

Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, counsel for the railways, cited the provisions of the Railway Act. Singh said that the power to construct on its land, including putting up of structures for displaying hoarding, was exclusively with the Railways. The advocate further contended that the Railways was not liable to pay any tax on such advertisements unless the Centre issues a notification. "Charges which are sought to be recovered by the corporation are nothing but compulsory exaction of money without rendering any services," said Singh.
 

BBMP to replace 4.85 lakh street lights without spending a paisa

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The Hindu          18.12.2017   

BBMP to replace 4.85 lakh street lights without spending a paisa


The investment will have to be made by the private company that bags the contract

If all goes according to plan, by 2019 all streets in Bengaluru will be brightly lit up with LED lights, which will be replacing the power-consuming sodium vapour lamps. And guess what, while reducing power consumption and thereby the power bill by more than half of its present level, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) would be investing nothing on the project.

The private company that will bag the contract will have to invest and replace around 4.85 lakh sodium vapour street lights, but will recoup their investment over the next 10 years, taking a majority share (75%) of the amount of power dues that is saved. BBMP will benefit from a reduced power bill (the remaining 25%).

Every month, the BBMP pays Rs. 12 crore for street lights. What will be the power bill with LED lights? Around Rs. 6 crore.

“The sharing will go on for 10 years, during which time the company will also maintain the lights,” said BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad, adding that BBMP's spending on the power bill will effectively reduce to Rs. 10.5 crore. The civic body will also save Rs. 30 crore per annum on maintenance.

International Financial Corporation (IFC), a sister concern of World Bank, has been roped in as a consultant for what is being termed the 'biggest street light project' in the country. IFC has already set the ball rolling and has begun a survey of the entire city and its lighting needs. While BBMP has around 4.85 lakh street lights, the survey will also identify areas which need street lights. Following the survey, it will prepare a bid document and tenders will be floated.

Multiple companies are expected to bid for the project now estimated to cost Rs. 560 crore, with a single LED bulb costing around Rs. 10,000. The IFC will assist the BBMP in the process of selecting the best bid. The basic selection criteria would be the amount of energy the company can guarantee saving. The selected company, and not the BBMP, will be paying the IFC for its service.

“The project is based on the energy saving model, which is being undertaken on a smaller scale in Bhubaneswar in Odisha and Jaipur in Rajasthan. Right now, the city has problems regarding sufficient lighting. While some streets have lights, they are either not functioning or are not bright enough. Some areas don't have any illumination. The project will cover the entire city and the lights will be controlled by the central control room of the BBMP,” said Mr. Prasad.

 

Corporation council revokes decision on Digital City project

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The Hindu     14.12.2017  

Corporation council revokes decision on Digital City project

To invite fresh expression of interest from internet service providers

The Kozhikode Corporation council on Wednesday revoked its October 11 decision to entrust Jio Infocom with the ‘Digital City’ project and decided to invite a fresh expression of interest from internet service providers.

The decision follows the High Court’s November 16 directive to ensure that Idea Cellular, which had moved the court over the project, be given a chance to take part in the bid.

A special meeting of the council was held on Wednesday to discuss the situation and to come up with a solution.

The bid in question had four participants including Jio Infocom and Idea Cellular Ltd. Three of them were disqualified to participate in the bidding process as they did not follow the rules set by the Corporation, and hence the project was granted to Jio Infocom.

However, Idea Cellular Ltd approached the High Court claiming that the Corporation refused to clarify some of the rules. The Court asked the Corporation to issue the clarification and ensure that all bidders had an equal opportunity.

Also, 13 councillors of the Opposition had submitted a Note of Dissent to the Corporation Secretary on the day the Council chose Jio Infocom for the project, alleging that the decision was not valid because there was only one bidder.

The Secretary had conducted an inquiry into this and found fault with the data provided by the Engineering wing, the implementing agency of the project.

Under the Digital City project, the selected internet service provider will have to set up high-mast light poles in select locations in the city. The poles will serve as the base for a Wi-Fi hotspot and surveillance cameras, connected to the police control room. The service providers will have to pay a monthly rent of Rs. 9,000 to the Corporation.

Besides, the Corporation can set up advertisement boards on the poles. The bids by the service providers other than Jio Infocom were rejected on grounds that they sought to share the poles with other service providers.


The decision follows the High Court’s directive to ensure that Idea Cellular, which had moved the court over the project, be given a chance to take part in the bid

Selected service provider will have to set up high-mast light poles in select locations in city

The poles will serve as the base for a Wi-Fi hotspot and surveillance cameras, connected to the police control room

 


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