Won't impose property tax: LG

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today said that J&K government won’t impose property tax, however the Urban Local Bodies are competent to decide on such issues in consultation with the public and for the development of the ULBs themselves.

He was speaking at My Town My Pride programme in Baramulla.

“With great responsibility I want to say that the recently thrust property tax on land and buildings within the municipal areas will not be levied from the people of Jammu and Kashmir by the UT administration,” he announced.

Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had empowered the Jammu and Kashmir administration to impose property taxes through the municipal corporations, municipal councils and municipal committees in the union territory, which evoked strong criticism from political parties as well as common people.

The Lt Governor also refuted the rumours regarding the reduction or scrapping of the honorarium of the PRI/ULB representatives, saying such rumours are being spread by certain vested interests, deliberately misleading elected PRI/ULB representatives on the honorarium issue.

The two-day long programme, an initiative for the Municipal areas is being conducted in Urban Local Bodies on 19th-20th October, during which camps for public service delivery are being set up.

Addressing a select gathering, the Lt Governor observed that public outreach in towns, strengthening grass-root democracy, and service delivery at doorsteps are the three main objectives of the “My Town My Pride” initiative.

‘The My Town My Pride’ is not a programme to announce anything new, but an opportunity to discuss and derive solutions to existing needs, issues and for effective delivery of services at every doorstep. During these two days, many issues faced by the cities will come to light, which will thereby help create a definitive roadmap for developing a strong ecosystem for our cities, focussing on the urban-rural partnership, enhancing market and business opportunities, job creation, filling the gaps in education system and ensuring sustainable economic development of our cities’, he affirmed.

The Lt Governor stressed that the Urban-Rural connect is vital for the wholesome development of Jammu & Kashmir and under ‘My Town My Pride’, every Municipal Council will be given Rs 1 crore to fill gaps in ongoing works. Similarly, Municipal Committees will be given Rs 50 lakhs each and Rs 5 cr will be given to Municipal Corporations to fill the gaps. Some part of the amount will be used for installing street lights in the city and some for creating parking spaces.

‘With the success of the Back to Village-3 programme, the need for a similar initiative for urban centers of Jammu & Kashmir was also felt, as a result of which, My Town My Pride programme was formulated’, the Lt Governor informed.

The Lt Governor asked the officers to own the initiative, identify local issues and needs of the people, and serve people with accountable, responsive, and participatory governance.

Synchronized efforts must be made for ensuring maximum saturation of social security and beneficiary-oriented schemes; besides ensuring speedy issuance of important documents, certificates; revenue services, and mobilization of funds towards developmental activities as per the needs of the local population, he added.

‘I have been apprised that the plan on decongesting old Baramulla city is being worked upon. The Jammu & Kashmir Housing Board is also planning to accommodate the increasing population of the town. Decongesting Baramulla is the need of the hour to ensure a better quality of living’, the Lt Governor maintained.

On augmentation of water supply in the district, the Lt Governor observed that there is a need to provide potable tapped water to every household of the town as only 43% households have the facility at present. ‘Under the Jal Jeevan Mission of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Rs 883 crore has been allotted to district Baramulla, out of which Rs 46 crore have already been released. Two reservoirs with a filtration plant are also being constructed and will be ready within the next two months to address water supply issues of the town’, he added.

Identifying the area’s potential for apple production, the Lt Governor said that Baramulla is a huge producer of apples but lacks sufficient processing units. If facilitated with governmental subsidies, new apple processing units can help generate lots of employment avenues in the district.

The Lt Governor also congratulated district Baramulla for securing the top spot in the NITI Aayog’s list of Aspirational Districts last year.

Applauding the International Wushu player, Jabeena Akhter, the Lt Governor said, ‘Empowerment of the girl is key for the development of the cities’ and called upon the women to participate in urban sustainability, improving quality of life and urban welfare.

Highlighting the need to encourage sporting culture, the Lt Governor said that the district already has one Indoor Stadium and two Open Playgrounds. He further highlighted the need for planned promotion and taking services of professional coaches to further encourage sports in the region. He called upon the elected members of ULBs to identify space for the creation of a playground. He also suggested the distribution of sports kits in every ward, in line with a similar move during Back to Village-3.

The Lt Governor spoke on increasing the quality of education and promotion of vocational training among the youth and said that it can greatly help in employment generation. He also asked for the expansion of the existing Public Library.

‘Under the Prime Minister’s Swanidhi Programme, street vendors, hawkers, and similar workers are being identified and being provided working capital to help them get their lives back on track after the COVID crisis. There is still a lot to achieve with the establishment of strong Urban Local Self-governance. The officers should identify gaps in the functioning of administration and put sustained and synchronized efforts to remove bottlenecks’, he continued.

‘I have been pushing for on spot grievance redressal, instant delivery of services to the masses, and on the ground speedy execution of people-centric projects’, the Lt Governor maintained.

Deputy Commissioner and President Municipal Council have been asked to work on innovative public-private partnerships in addition to asset creation. Start-ups, private investments in agriculture and allied sectors, and strengthening of businesses are to be encouraged.

“We need to work on startups, look for private investors in agriculture and allied activities, strengthen the business environment to make our cities best performing cities in the country’. Development should be inclusive and sustainable to meet challenges of the future,” said the Lt Governor.

Meanwhile, the Lt Governor interacted with the public gathered there and sought feedback from them on the administration’s efforts in providing door-step governance to the public and on-spot redressal of their grievances, besides providing them with various services by the departments.

Pandurang K. Pole, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir; Vijay Kumar, IG Kashmir; Zubair Ahmad, Director General, IMPA and visiting officer; Dr. G.N Itoo, Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla; Omar Kakroo, President, MC, Baramulla, and senior officers were present on the occasion.