Cong cries foul over Rs 43.6 million house tax notice to Anand Bhavan
After the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation (PMC) issued a house tax recovery notice to the tune of ₹43.6 million (4.36 crore) to Anand Bhavan that houses Jawahar Planetarium and Swaraj Bhavan here, senior Congress leaders said the party would protest unless tax exemption was granted.
While issuing the notice, the municipal corporation has claimed that Anand Bhavan is a commercial building.
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu said, “Anand Bhavan is our heritage and PMC issuing a tax notice to it is unfortunate.”
He said a letter would be written to chief minister Yogi Adityanath as well as the state urban development minister so that tax could be exempted, or else the UPCC would protest against it.”
Anand Bhavan was an iconic epicentre of the freedom struggle that was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi. In the past few decades, it has witnessed several visits by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.
As per municipal records, Anand Bhavan was declared non-residential by the Municipal Corporation in 2003 and annual house tax at ₹1.5 million (₹15 lakh) was fixed to which the Trust had registered its objection. A case on the dispute is still pending in the small cause court.
Chief tax fixation officer, Prayagraj Municipal Corporation (PMC) PK Mishra said Anand Bhavan was a commercial building and it was classified as a non- residential building in 2003 as no one stayed there. He further said that before 2003, the public representatives used to fix house tax of buildings situated in their jurisdiction as per their own assessment and got the same paid by owner of the buildings.
In 2003, the House Tax Act empowered the municipal corporation to decide the amount of tax and hence the annual tax payable by Anand Bhavan was fixed by corporation at ₹1.5 million (15 lakh) which was revised to ₹ 827,000 (₹ 8.27 lakh) in 2014, he said. The trust looking after Anand Bhavan was depositing only 600 house tax per year, which was fixed by the public representatives before 2003, he added.
“For depositing the requisite amount of house tax, a notice as well as bill was being sent to the trust every year from 2014 but to no avail. Now, a notice of Rs 4.36 crore (Rs 43.60 million) has been sent by the corporation to Anand Bhavan,” he added.
Mayor Abhilasha Gupta said the trust should take 10 to 15 days’ time to submit documents certifying it as a charitable trust, failing which a ‘red notice’ would be issued.
Senior Congress leader and former Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari said, “The issue came to our notice in July and talks were held with corporation officials about it.”
“Everyone knows that Anand Bhavan is not a commercial venture but if necessary relevant documents will also be submitted,” he added.
Former UPCC spokesperson Kishore Varshney said the Anand Bhavan complex had been the hub of the freedom struggle.
“No tax should be levied on it,” he added.