BENGALURU: The move to collect maintenance fee by including it in the property tax has triggered a backlash among those who bought sites from the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

Coming at a time when the civic body is being slammed for lapses in developing layouts and allotting sites, the maintenance fee has put the government in a tight spot. “Forget about swanky amenities, BDA has not provided a decent road to reach my plot. While it has no moral authority to even collect taxes for basic facilities it hasn’t delivered, how can it think of collecting maintenance fee? Isn’t it gross injustice?” asked private college lecturer, 53-year-old Sripathi V.

Sripathi, from a middle class family, is among thousands who can’t use their property but have to pay tax for no service. He applied for a BDA site in 2002 and waited for 16 years. His dream of spending retirement in his own house got a shot after a site in Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout was allotted in 2018. “They (BDA officials) have not even numbered sites even after three years. I don’t know where exactly is my site and I’m not sure if I’ll enjoy the property in this life. I’m ready to pay taxes, but they should show what facilities have been provided.”

Many land owners with properties in Banashankari Layout, Sir M Visvesvaraya Layout, Arkavathy Layout and Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout are in distress as they’ve taken housing loans to buy plots and construct houses.

Venkatesh R, who owns a plot in Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout said, “When I took a bank loan, it was for land and construction, which should be within two years or the bank will charge additional interest. But BDA has not developed anything – roads, drains, water or power lines – for us to start building there. When we’re struggling to pay loans and interest, hiking property tax by adding maintenance fee is not right.” HK Gowdaiah, a resident of Sir M Visvesvaraya Layout Third Block, bought land in 2006 and continues to fight for basic facilities. Hoping that BDA would provide basic infrastructure quickly, he took a bank loan and a constructed house.

He said: “BDA doesn’t have the authority to collect property tax or even maintenance charges because nobody from the authority comes here to maintain them. I’ve spent more than a decade paying EMIs for a house which doesn’t have facilities.”

M Ashok, secretary, Nadaprabhu Kemgegowda Layout Open Forum, demanded cancellation of tax and maintenance charge levied on vacant sites until all basic amenities are provided. “How can they collect maintenance fee when they haven’t provided even sanitary lines and streetlights?” he asked.

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