NGOs oppose additional fee for solid waste mgmt

ST CORRESPONDENT
Friday, 18 January 2019

Ranjit Gadgil from NGO Parisar said, “Last year in October, SWM department had tabled a proposal to increase the property tax for SWM. This proposal will go to the commissioner and then it will go to the Standing Committee which is governed by the ruling party."

PUNE: Representatives of several city-based NGOs and concerned citizens have protested the additional user fee charge or property tax hike for Solid Waste Management (SWM) that has been proposed by the SWM department of the civic body. They have written an open letter to BJP leaders regarding the proposed increase in property tax for SWM. The proposed letter of Pune Muncipal Corporation (PMC) mentions an increase in property tax for residences by Rs 1.40 crore and Rs 50 crore for commercials.

Representatives from Parisar, Mahila Aghadi Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, Kalpavriksh, Nagrik Chetna Manch, Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana, Pune Zilla Ghar Kamgar Sanghatana, Sajag Nagrik Manch along with citizens of the city have jointly written the letter.

Ranjit Gadgil from NGO Parisar said, “Last year in October, SWM department had tabled a proposal to increase the property tax for SWM. This proposal will go to the commissioner and then it will go to the Standing Committee which is governed by the ruling party. Hence, we have sent this letter to register our strong objection to the proposal from the administration to increase property taxes allegedly to reduce the deficit in the SWM costs.”

Gadgil further said, “In their proposal, it is clearly mentioned that there are 25 per cent defaulters who have not paid tax and they failed to take any steps for recovery from defaulters and has attempted to pass on the entire burden to honest tax payers. As per the administration’s own admission, the tax recovery rate for last three years is 74 per cent and there is no increase in this for last three years. By increasing the recovery rate by 10 per cent, the PMC can increase their revenue by Rs 25 crore, instead of taxing those who are already paying.”

Vivek Velankar, President, Sajag Nagrik Manch, said, “The proposal also mentions that tax hike of Rs 206 crore is an extra amount to be collected. However, since tax collection rate is 74 per cent only, the actual collected will be only Rs 152 crore. Also, since the user fees are being collected through this method, the current user fees paid by citizens is Rs 32 crore. Thus, total expected increase for the PMC will be only Rs 120 crore. Hence the stated objective of the civic body will not be met in any case.”

Velankar further added, “The administration has also falsely claimed that compliance with new SWM Rules has led to an increase in the costs for SWM. The new SWM rules in fact require citizens to segregate waste at source, so that the handling and processing of the waste can be streamlined, recycling rates can increase, and less waste is transported to the landfill. Also, the civic body claims as there are several villages added to the PMC limits was the reason behind increase in property, but it does not make any sense of collecting their taxes from us. In fact, these costs must be recovered from the Development Charges and property taxes of those areas or funds from the State government, which has decided to merge these villages into the PMC.”

SUGGESTIONS GIVEN BY THE NGOS
- The PMC should extend the doorstep collection to all parts of the city through waste pickers and rationalise the user fees for the same. Residents are already giving segregated waste to this system and this should be further encouraged, not scrapped
- All high cost services (mechanised gate collection) should be stopped or subject to higher user fees for those residents
- Overall SWM costs should be reduced
- Other sources of funds should be identified, such as grants from the State and Central governments
- PMC should encourage greater composting of wet waste at source. Already, many Puneites are successfully composting their own/societies wet waste and many more will also do so with the right support and incentives from the civic body. Direct subsidies for societies to compost their wet waste will be extremely cost effective and ensure less waste is dumped in Urali

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