The AAP alleged on Sunday that the BJP-run Municipal Corporation of Delhi sent notices to traders in the city’s industrial areas asking them to pay “unjustified conversion fees” or else their establishments would be sealed and penalties imposed.
The civic body hit back and dismissed the charge, saying ‘false information’ was being spread about the industrial land conversion charge.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Durgesh Pathak told reporters earlier in the day that it was an attempt by the BJP to “extort” money from the businessmen. ”Thousands of such notices have been sent to businessmen across Delhi demanding payment of conversion fees which range from Rs 1-5 crore,” he said, and showed a copy of ‘a notice served by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on the owner of a furniture store. For a week now, BJP leaders and ‘their (MCD officials) officers’ have been threatening businessmen with sealing shops and sanctions if they don’t pay conversion fees, Rajendra MP alleged Nagar, and warned the BJP that “if you seal any store, you will face a lot of hardship”.
A senior MCD official denied the allegation and said that “the municipal corporation does not work at the request of any political party but in accordance with the law and established rules of public administration”. “Sending notices is a lawful act. and a notice is a legal instrument established to notify the data subject of any commission or omission required of him or her by law. Sealing is the company’s last resort. Moreover, those who receive notices are not small traders or traders but owners of industrial land in industrial areas and using the industrial land for commercial purposes,” he said.
In a statement, the MCD further stated that ”the conversion rates are set and notified by the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) and not by the MCD” and added that no arrears were requested by the MCD, due to rate review in 2018. MCD is committed to protecting the interests of trade and commerce, he said. “A new false allegation has been made against the company regarding the conversion fee levied by the company in the industrial area. It was claimed in the allegation that traders were asked to pay the conversion tax either all at once at Rs 8,000 per square meter or in installments at Rs 1,000 per square meter for 10 to 15 years. The company would like to clarify that this is not true,” the statement read. The industrial to commercial conversion charge rates were notified by the DDA via a notice dated February 25, 2009, on the basis of built-up area per square meter, it said. Calling notices allegedly sent to businessmen ‘unwarranted’, Pathak claimed the payment of unpaid conversion fees is based on a new provision introduced by the civic body through the ‘backdoor’ in 2018 In 2010, he said, the MCD had notified a new rule for the payment of tax as a conversion tax by those who conduct business in the city’s industrial areas. It had also offered them the option of a one-time payment or an installment according to prescribed rates, and at least 80% of businessmen opted to pay the conversion fee in installments over 10 to 15 years, a said Pathak. ”They continued to pay the tax at the end of the year. But, in 2018, the BJP-led MCD introduced a new backdoor rule and increased the conversion fee,” he said. After most businessmen started paying the conversion fee in installments over 10 or 15 years, how can the MCD break this “agreement” with them in the meantime, “is it justified”, asked the head of the AAP. The companies also said they found the claims “malicious” and spoke out against them outright. There is no retroactive effect of the revised rate, he said.
”The revised fees are to be paid on the date of its entry into force in 2018. Furthermore, the modification of the tariffs, as notified by the DDA, is not a new tax but a simple revision of the tariffs. Moreover, it was not a backdoor, but came into existence via public notification,’ the civic body said. Referring to the MCD polls, the dates of which have yet to be announced, Pathak said: “When your (BJP) time came to leave, you started extorting shopkeepers in the name of closing their stores. The Aam Aadmi Party will not tolerate this. We oppose it tooth and nail.” PTI PK KND ANB ANB
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