WITH AN annual estimated budget of Rs 8,400 crore, an increase from Rs 8,111 crore in 2022-23, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s (AMC’s) draft budget, tabled Tuesday, has proposed introduction of Environment Improvement Charges (EIC) for residential and non-residential properties.
Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner M Thennarasan also proposed an increase in property letting rate — for the first time in ten years.
The hike in property letting rate is between 32 to 44 percent, in addition to an annual hike of 5 percent. The EIC charges are upto Rs 3,000 and Rs 7,000 for residential and non-residential properties, respectively.
During his briefing to the media Tuesday, Thennarasan termed the budget as “participatory and citizen-centric budget”, while also calling it ‘gender budget’.
The draft budget has proposed “to do away with inequality with women” despite the fact that “48 percent is women’s share”, he said.
The budget plans to eradicate inequality in education and health areas, nutrition and everyday requirements like toilets. In the wake of difficulties in finding a rented accommodation for single women and female students, the draft budget has proposed a working women hostel in eastern and western areas. Also, one “she lounge” per ward has been proposed only for working women where they can rest with facilities like toilets as well as facilities of a crèche.
Justifying the hike in tax rates after a decade, he said, “With a hike in processing of milk by 122 per cent, edible oil by 130 per cent, cable connection by 250 per cent, cloths by 120 per cent, cooking LPG by 150 per cent. cent and electricity charges by 100 per cent, the property tax for commercial and residential properties remained the same since 2013. In last ten years with the introduction of GST and increase in the wholesale index prices, the tender costs have increased resulting in administrative expenses have increased ”.
Also, this is the first time, if approved by the AMC standing committee, Ahmedabad residents have to pay the EIC. During his tenure, Thennarasan had introduced it in Surat in 2018.
“Since we do not have a pollution measuring tool, residents will be charged under EIC on polluter pay principal based on the fact that those not using the public transport are using their own vehicles and thus resulting in higher pollution levels. Property owners with more than 100 square meter carpet area are not using public transport. This is a hypothesis,” the Municipal Commissioner stated terming the EIC as “not a tax but charge”.
For residential properties, EIC has been fixed from Rs 5 to RS 3,000 for carpet area ranging in 0-5 square meter to more than 500 square meter carpet area. For non residential areas, the same is from Rs 150 to Rs 7,000.
Also, user charges for solid waste management have been increased from existing Rs 1 per day to Rs 2 per day for residential properties above 30 square meters. For non-residential properties, the highest hike is for properties above 200 square meters where the existing Rs 2 per day user charges have been proposed to increase to Rs 10 per day.
Under energy saving and conservation, a Green, Blue and Yellow Roof Scheme (GBY) has been proposed where roofs would be categorized as per properties energy savings.
Further, seven water plazas — one in each zone — have been planned that will store rain water through storm water drains with structures for religious activities and to be used as social infrastructures.
Taking lessons from his recent visit to Japan, Thennarasan has proposed a hydrogen gas plant generation on a PPP mode for which feasibility study would be conducted soon for a circular economy.
The budget received more than 500 suggestions through 450 e-mails, of which only 2 percent were on revenue generation. “Two percent of the suggestions received were for increase in property taxes,” stated M Thennarasan.
The AMC through social media and newspapers had, for the first time, sought suggestions from residents for the 2023-24 budget. Majority of these suggestions — 39 per cent — received were as complaints on improving the existing services followed by suggestions on basic services like road, water, drainage, light, health and cleanliness.