Tax arrears? No water, seems to be Metrowater credo at time of scarcity

Chennai: For over a week, city residents have been battling with booking a water tanker on the website of Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) due to backlogs in paying property tax. While the case is going on in the Madras High Court, several MLAs had represented in the Assembly session the plight that Chennaiites have been going through, and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had assured of bringing down the tax rate.

“When I wanted to book Metrowater tanker online, the message that was displayed was ‘arrears due; booking not allowed.” While they have increased the taxes enormously and are expecting us to pay arrears without revising the property tax, to stop us from booking for Metrowater tanker is unfair,’ said N Venkatesan, a resident of Nanganallur.

Experiencing the same plight, S Padmanabhan, another resident from the city stated that new orders to book 6,000 and 9,000 litre tankers was blocked. However in his case, he had paid the property tax despite the hike.

A section of residents in Ambattur have taken the matter to the attention of Minister for Municipal Administration, S P Velumani.

File photo of water tankers.

“We requested the Minister to reduce property tax in Ambattur. We explained to him how the rates have been fixed high and he assured us that the tax will be reduced to a reasonable level,’ said United Welfare Association Ambattur (UWAA) general secretary, S Suresh.

Venkatesan further stated that water and sewerage tax is charged at 7 per cent of annual value of property. As it is evident, huge increase in annual value of the propoerty has resulted in increasing the water and sewerage tax which has been effective from the first half of 2018-19.

“The problem is that property taxes were hiked when Ambattur was a Municipality and once again after it came under the Corporation. I spoke about addressing the disparity on the matter in the Assembly and I have been assured that it will be looked into,” Ambattur MLA Alexander informed News Today.

A committee is set to be formed to revise taxes at places where it is high and the Chief Minister had informed it a week before. Alexander said, “The CM has spoken about this and after the committee is formed, it will look at revising taxes.”

When News Today contacted the spokesperson of CMWSSB seeking clarification on the matter, he stated that property tax must be paid to avail of a tanker.

Asked about the incidence of having a problem despite paying the tax amount, he said, “It must be a glitch and people can avail of one if they provide the CMC number to CMWSSB.”

However, with the exorbitant hike, residents unanimously seek lowering the property and water tax at a time when there are fights occurring over water.

(Report by Praveen Kumar S & Bhavani Prabhakar)

NT Bureau