Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Mar 31:
The Odisha Olympic Association (OOA) managed Barabati stadium is in the news for the wrong reasons yet again. The beleaguered sports body is embroiled in controversy as it has defaulted on paying holding tax arrears amounting to Rs 1, 86, 86, 000.
While the row over the Barabati Palace, which has allegedly come up on a piece of encroached government land is yet to die down, the alleged tax evasion is all set to add to the sports body’s woes.
A week ahead of this financial year-end, the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) has served demand notices to Cuttack Collector and Odisha Olympic Association authorities.
As the Cuttack district administration has taken over the charge of Barabati Palace (Kalyan Mandap) and 23 shops built on government land adjacent to Barabati Stadium following Supreme Court orders in January this year, the district collector, who is at the helm of affairs, has been asked to respond to the notice.
According to sources, it has been mentioned in the notice served to the district collector that the cumulative holding tax dues on the 23 shops amounts to Rs 8.86 lakh. Similarly, it is mentioned in the notice issued to the OOA that Rs 1.78 crore is payable towards holding tax of Barabati stadium.
Notably, the holding tax of the Barabati stadium was recomputed after the issue regarding pendency of the holding tax was brought to the notice of CMC Commissioner last year. As per the fresh assessment, the stadium would have to pay Rs 44 lakh towards holding tax per annum.
However, it is unclear whether the authorities have calculated the property tax due on it at the earlier rates or the revises ones.
Meanwhile, the notice has raised many questions on how the association managed to get away without paying its dues so far despite being among the top tax defaulters in the city.
It may be mentioned here that CMC has set an ambitious target of collecting Rs 8 crore holding tax in 2015-16, almost double the amount it is likely to generate this financial year.
For this, the civic body has increased holding tax rates for commercial establishments and started fresh assessment for new institutions, besides setting up special squads for speedy tax collection which is one of its major sources of income.
CMC sources said the annual holding tax for residential holdings have remained unchanged at Rs 2 per sq ft whereas for small shops, it has been increased from Rs 5 to Rs 10 a sq ft. In addition to this, the holding tax for commercial establishments like Kalyan Mandaps, hotels and private hospital have been revised. They will now have to pay Rs 20 a sq ft instead of the Rs 7 they paid earlier. Besides, it will be Rs 25 a sq ft instead of Rs 10 for banks and insurance companies.
Now, it remains to be seen what penalty or action CMC initiates against the violator for defaulting on payments to the tune of crores causing huge losses to the civic body.