by Yawar Hussain
SRINAGAR: New interventions will change the way the real estate sector would work in Jammu and Kashmir. Since the 2020 fall, the government has issued a series of orders that change the traditional processes and systems.
A recent order issued by the Housing and Urban Development Department has mandated the concerned Municipal Corporations, Councils or Committees to levy property tax on the properties in Jammu and Kashmir.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by the Jammu and Kashmir Property Tax Board Act, 2013, the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Act, 2000 and the Municipal Corporation Act 2000, the government hereby direct that for the levy of property tax on any land or building as notified in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Preparation and Revision of Market Value Guideline Rules 2011 (circle rate),” the order reads.
The order further states that the Jammu and Kashmir Preparation and Revision of Market Value Guideline Rules 2011 would be the key determinant of the value of the property apart from the nature of the construction, the kind of use, the age of the property or any other relevant consideration.
The order has mandated the concerned municipal bodies to “ensure that the value of land so notified is adequately factored while determini9ng the unit area values for levy of property tax, under the aforesaid Acts.”
An earlier order suggested that the Jammu and Kashmir government will now only evaluate private properties having valid building permissions. As per an order issued by the Roads and Buildings Department, a person seeking to get his property valued for selling or any other purpose will have to submit a “valid permit issued by SMC/Town Area Committee.”
“In case the structure is old and does not qualify for building permission, the AEE (Assistant Executive Engineer) should certify the same,” the order reads further.
However, sources in the administration reveal that the order is already creating a “crisis” because the AEE’s are reluctant to certify properties which are old.
An official, wishing anonymity said, “The AEE doesn’t have the details of houses constructed before the building permission system came in. How can they certify without these details?”
“Ultimately the valuation isn’t being done in these cases, which in turn leads to the property being devalued because it cannot be transferred to a new person,” the official said,
The order further directs the AEE’s to certify whether or not the property being valued violates the Ribbon Development (RD) Act or the Master Plan. “In case the structure is old and was not violating the RD Act at that particular time, the AEE should certify the same,” the order reads.
Sources said the problem in this clause is that the Ribbon Development Act never allowed any property to be built adjacent to a road while most of the properties built prior are along the roadsides particularly in downtown Srinagar.
“In these cases, the officials are flagging that the property being valued is violating the RD Act which leads to non-issuance of a valuation certificate. Thus the property in itself becomes a dispute and loses value,” an official said.
The official said the properties built three decades ago or even prior have no such documents to support their case.
“Back then there was no concept of seeking permission from the government. The people were naive also,” the official added.
As per the RD Act, any property has to be built at a specific distance from the centre of the road and not adjacent to it.
Meanwhile, the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries has reacted sharply against the imposition of property tax stating that they would oppose it “tooth and nail.”
Addressing a news conference in Jammu, president, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries Arun Gupta said since August 5, 2019, Jammu has remained closed off and on and people are not in any position to pay taxes.
He said Jammu remained closed during the lockdown also.
“The government should know how people are surviving and running their businesses,” he said.
He said the government should review the property tax. “We are opposing it strongly and we will go to any extent to oppose it,” Gupta said.
“The government should have first talked to the stakeholders before imposing this kind of tax. They haven’t talked to the stakeholders once. I believe the business people of Jammu are in dire straits and some of them don’t have even the capacity to pay their children’s school fees. This kind of tax shouldn’t be introduced here,” he added.