Army becomes a defaulter: Owes 317 cr to SCB

Army becomes a defaulter: Owes 317 cr to SCB
Highlights

Army becomes a defaulter: Owes 317 cr to SCB. SCB writes to South Central Railway too asking for details of total land/buildings and cost of land under charge of SCR in Cantonment area.

SCB writes to South Central Railway too asking for details of total land/buildings and cost of land under charge of SCR in Cantonment area.

The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) has been trying every possible way to improve its financial health and boost its coffers. After initiating month-long special drives against illegal water connections and property tax defaulters, the authorities are now keen on getting the Army (GE North and GE South) to pay up the pending service charges that have shot up to a whopping Rs 317.47 crore since 1983.

SCB CEO Sujatha Gupta says, “The SCB has been raising service charges for every financial year regularly but the service charges payable by the Army to SCB are not being released and as a result the accumulation of arrears have gone up to more than Rs 317 crore. The number of civic works and infrastructure development can be taken up if the funds are released.”

As per Section 109 of the Cantonment Act, 2006, the Army is bound to pay annual service charges to the SCB for providing collective municipal services or development work in the Cantonment where the central or state government properties are situated.

According to the documents available with The Hans India, the balance that stood at Rs 7.4 lakh in 1983, has over the years accumulated and has crossed the Rs 300 crore mark in 2014.

A senior official at the SCB said that for the period 2013-14, the current demand stood at Rs 50.39 crore when the arrears stood at Rs 267.39 crore. The Army paid just Rs 30.86 lakh. Right from the eighties, the Army has been only paying a small part of the total service charges hampering the developmental activities of the Cantonment.

Suryanarayana, a resident of Ishaq Colony, says, “Residents have been paying taxes but the condition of the roads are deplorable. Cantonment Board officials always complain of lack for funds but then it is not our problem.”

Another resident of West Marredpally, S Sainath, said, “Many acres of Army property have been taken over by private clubs, shops and recreation centres. How come permissions were given?”

In 2006, the Cantonments Act, 1924, was replaced by the Cantonment Act, 2006, that empowers cantonments to take up developmental activities. As per section 62 of the Cantonment Act, 2006, the duties of the board include lighting, watering, cleaning streets, cleaning drains, removing vegetation, securing or removing dangerous buildings, regulating places for the disposal of the dead, constructing, altering and maintaining street, culverts, bridges, causeways, markets, slaughter houses, latrines, urinals, drains, drainage and sewerage works apart from a host of other civic works.

A senior official of the Cantonment Board says that out of the 62 cantonments in the country, the Secunderabad one falls under Category I based on population and unless the huge dues are not paid, it becomes difficult for the board to provide facilities for people.

SCB writes to Railway

The SCB has written to South Central Railway (SCR) to provide information on the total land and buildings in the cantonment area that are under the charge of SCR and also the cost of the land and buildings.

The SCB is not in a position to levy service charges as the lands inside the cantonment come under various categories. When asked if the board can levy charges on the properties of central government, Sujatha Gupta says that the Cantonment Board, Varanasi, has contested the case of non-payment of service charges by the Ministry of Railways in the High Court of Allahabad in 2011 when it was reaffirmed that it was mandatory to pay service charge to the Cantonment Board.

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