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VMC asks Central govt agencies to pay up civic amenities dues Saturday, December 15, 2001

VADODARA: Plagued by cash crunch, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation has finally cracked down on various Central government agencies, including the Army, Air Force and the Airports Authority of India for evading municipal taxes to the tune of Rs 2.24 crore against water supply of the corporation. The corporation is even contemplating attaching the property of the bigger evaders for recovery of dues.

The biggest on the defaulter's list is the Airports Authority of India which according to the VMC have not paid up since the last three years. The AAI's outstanding amount stands at Rs 1.03 crore, for which a "supply discontinuing" order has already been prepared.

The others major defaulter is Railways which has more than Rs 77 lakh as outstanding against the water used by the department. The Air Force and the Army are the two other defaulters which are to pay the department Rs 16 lakh and Rs 23.43, while the Heavy Waters Plant owes the corporation about Rs lakh.

In wake of the octroi evaluation, which is hinting at a very low collection as against an estimate of Rs 130 crore, the corporations is going all out to mop up anything due towards payment.

According to the deputy mayor, the shifting of the big companies out of the octroi limits and the closure of many production units coupled with a lacklustre market have now started showing its effect on the toll collection. Also, the returns on other receipts which is estimated to be another Rs 130 crore, the actual collection may only be 70 per cent. "Normally, there are a large number of defaulters which eventually cause the shortfall in the collections," said VMC standing committee chairman Bharat Shah.

Talking on defaults, Deputy Mayor Shailesh Mehta said, "They are like any other defaulters, and ideally their connections should be snapped at the first instance." Sources in the VMC, however, said despite the fact that the adverse order has been signed against the AAI, disconnection of the water supply and the drainage has been deferred temporarily. The municipal commissioner has called the representatives of all defaulting departments for a final discussion on the issue before taking "action", informed sources in the corporation said.

According to Mehta, "It's good if they react positively, assuring us payment soon. Else, we would have to take action apart from disconnecting all civic amenities." Mehta said there are provisions to recover dues of defaulters through auction of property.

In view of the financial crunch, VMC functionaries have voluntarily surrendered certain facilities they are entitled to. While most of them, including Mayor Bharti Vyas, have surrendered their mobile phones, many have also decided to bear their fuel cost themselves.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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