belagavi

Why this Kolaveri Di Cantonment board

7
belagavi

Belgaum is being positioned as Karnataka’s ‘Second City’ with heavy investments in Belgaum’s infrastructure being planned by KUIDFC and other agencies. With the ‘Suvarna Soudha’ nearing completion, it is expected that Belgaum will, after decades of stagnation, join in the pageant of progress that the whole country is witnessing.

In the midst of this, one agency that seems determined to face in the opposite direction and carry us back, to the dismal dark days of the ‘Octroi-Licence-Permit’ raj – is the Belgaum Cantonment Board.

Angriya

Citing “financial difficulties” and wishing to “augment revenues” the Cantonment Board has decided to install “toll nakas” at, initially, 7 vital entry points into Cantonment territory and target 6 categories of commercial vehicles. Later, the ‘toll nakas’ will be extended to all entry points into Cantonment, the categories of vehicles may be extended to include other, including private vehicles, and the rates may be increased. After all, once a tiger tastes human blood, it does not go back to goat meat !

What do we, as citizens of Belgaum, do to prevent the three-way partition of our city by a measure that will cause massive traffic jams, result in daily fist fights and violence with the people on duty at nakas and open the gates for massive corruption. The innocent hard working people of Belgaum are being milked before our very eyes.

What are we doing about it ? Some of us civil members approached the High Court of Karnataka and on 13th February 2012, the Hon’ble High Court passed an interim order exempting all auto rickshaws and farmers. They hope to do better at the next hearing.

It is not enough for only a few of us to act to save our people and save Belgaum. We all need to act. Either in groups or individually. Your voice will make a big difference.

Q) Is the ‘license fee’ legal ?

Answer ———> Yes, it is. Under the New Cantonment Act, 2006 a Cantonment Board may charge “a license fee an entry of vehicles” (Section 67). However, according to the Law Lexicon, if a license fee is imposed not for regulatory purpose – like an arms license or a driving license, but it is for ‘augmenting revenue’, it is exactly equal to a tax – and in the same Act, Section 66, a Cantonment Board may not impose any tax which any municipality, in the State in which the Cantonment is located, cannot.

Hence, in Karnataka, which abolished entry tax on 23rd July 1979, no Municipality and hence no Cantonment Board can impose any tax on entry of vehicles.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has supported this view in Ramgarh Cantonment Board vs State of Jharkhand (2008).

Q) Is Belgaum Cantonment Board facing “financial difficulties” ?

Answer ———> Well, strangely, the “Annual Consolidated Accounts” from 2007 to 2010 obtained under RTI show the following picture

Year

Total Revenue

Total Expenditure

Surplus / Def.

2007 – 2008

14,21,19,306

12,27,67,369

1,93,51,937

2008 – 2009

8,74,09,604

9,85,96,909

1,11,87,305

2009 – 2010

11,58,70,511

8,26,02,644

3,32,67,867

Total surplus (over

three years)

4,14,32,499

 Further, the minutes of the Cantonment Board’s Meeting of 21st January 2012 has cleared the Statement of Accounts of the Belgaum Cantonment Board upto 31st December 2011 showing a surplus of Rs. 1,01,07,480 for the 1st nine months of this year alone.

Financial difficulties ? ? ?

Why “augment revenue” if you are already showing a huge surplus of revenue over expenditure ? Is the Belgaum Cantonment Board a listed company which has to give dividends and bonus shares and make huge profits or is it an U.L.B. (Urban Local Body) which has only to cover costs.

 

Q) What costs ?

Answer ———> The population of Belgaum Cantonment is only 23,678 (according to Board’s Website) and falling (from 23,779 in the previous Census).

Some 70% of Cantonment territory is reserved for Central Government agencies which do not come under the Cantonment Board and have their own budget allotment directly from the Central Government. The Cantonment Board is only concerned with ‘Bazaar Area’ – and the rented areas like CBT, ST Quarters, Forest Department compound, the railway station area, etc.

Of the 61.64 kilometres of roads in Cantonment only a few are maintained by the Cantonment Board – as will be explained later.

So although the Cantonment of Belgaum covers 1704 acres, the responsibilities of the Cantonment Board are very limited, catering to the welfare of only 23,678 people.

There are no plans for building huge flyovers, etc and there is no big project contemplated.

Then what “costs” ?

And why should the 4,81,000 people of Belgaum subsidize these 23,000 people or the Central Government Agencies ?

 

Q) Has the Karnataka State Government abandoned the Belgaum Cantonment Board, as claimed in various Press Conferences by the C.E.O. ?

Answer ———> Strangely, 62 pages of figures supplied by State Government show how the Karnataka State Government has regularly released the SFC grant (to compensate octroi) since 1979, right upto the 2nd Quarter (i.e. October, November and December 2011 when Belgaum Cantonment Board received 14.12 lakhs by 3604-00-191-1-00 (Entry Tax devolution).

Strangely, the Cantonment Board has prevented the Karnataka State Government from spending Rs. 10 crores which was released before the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan to conserve and beautify the Belgaum Fort.

Strangely, the Cantonment Board has, since 2006 blocked the development of a District Museum in a Fort bungalow purchase by the State Government on which it spent huge sums to restore it to its 1831 ‘heritage’ status and display replicas of status etc from all over Belgaum district. The excuse for stopping the work was that this was non-residential use of a bungalow.

However, the Cantonment Board itself has sold to the Income Tax Dept 4.5 acres in GLR No. 324 of land along the rampart wall of the historic Belgaum Fort for Rs. 16,02,612 lakhs and it was only the tireless efforts of vigilant citizens that has till today prevented the I.T. Dept from putting up ugly 5 storey residential blocks outside the main gate of Belgaum’s 1000 years old priceless heritage structure – the Belgaum Fort !

Strangely, the Cantonment Board has obstructed the widening of Khanapur Road at the Cantonment Board’s main gate, which is a projection into the National Highway, in violation of N.H. norms.

Even more strangely, the Cantonment Board has refused to let a paan and gutka shop opposite Globe Talkies be removed to widen the National Highway.

The Cantonment Board has also refused to let an old octroi naka at Ashoka Circle be removed although it has pocketed the compensation from the State Government. The Octroi naka is being used to serve mini-lunch for Rs. 20/- but it is a very dangerous traffic hazard causing accidents galore.

The question could possibly be reversed – – has the Karnataka State Government let go the hand of the Cantonment Board or has the Cantonment Board dropped the hand of the Karnataka State Government ?

 

Q) Is there no other help that the Karnataka State Government is giving the Cantonment Board, as claimed ?

Answer ———> Consider the following – – –

  1. All treated water is supplied to the Cantonment Board free of charge.

(only O & M charges are collected).

  1. All 10 tonnes of garbage generated by the Cantonment each day is treated free by the City Corporation which pays Rs. 600/- to treat each tonne and then bury the inert matter in the City Corporation’s 66 acres of land at Turmuri.

(The Cantonment Board only pays the tipping charges of Rs. 678/- per tonne).

  1. The Underground Drainage (UGD) pipes of the Cantonment Board are allowed to enter the City Corporation’s pipes at two points – behind Nucleus Mall and behind Pranam Hotel. This night soil will be treated at the Soil Treatment Plant set up by the State Government at Halga- Bastwad.
  2. Sanchayani Circle, Gogte Circle, and Khanapur Road have been widened and beautified by the State Government.
  3. Sanchayani Circle to Fish Market is maintained by . . . . . . PWD

Fish Market to Gogate Circle is maintained by . . . . . . N.H.

Vanita Vidyalaya to Hindalga Ganpati is maintained by . . . . . PWD

Harsha to Hindalga Ganpati is maintained by . . . . . N.H.

Ganeshpur Road beyond M.H. is maintained by . . . . PWD

RTO Circle to Dharwad Road Railway Crossing is maintained by PWD

Ashoka Circle to Circuit House is maintained by . . . . PWD

Circuit House to Khimjibhai Petrol Pump is maintained by . . . . PWD

We leave it to all discerning people to figure out the real reason . . . the ‘hidden agenda’ behind the resolution for “augmenting revenues” through toll nakas manned by lathi will only take us back,

Why this Kolaveri Di Cantonment board ?

With inputs from Nitin & Siddarth

 

 

 

 

belagavi

7 COMMENTS

  1. The subject has been very elaborately discussed. Sharing he suit number on the files of the High Court of Karnataka and making available the latest status in the matter would further enhance the objective and enlighten the residents in the other 61 Cantonments.

  2. Mr. Chandra has said some things that are new. Mr. Chandra has said some things that are true. But, unfortunately, the true things he said are not new, and the new things he said are not true.
    The 13 points that he makes are in either one or the other category, but since he has taken so much time to respond, some effort at correcting the disinformation at each point may be in order.
    At the outset, it must be remembered that the Cantonment and Corporation are both integral parts of the same city – and synergies only flow if there is an element of reciprocity and goodwill in the relations with each other. If we try and pit one against the other it is like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face.
    Second, in an era of globalization, India is moving forward to a single point taxation regime, not a multi-point collection regime – for reasons that are obvious to all. The ‘licence fee’, ‘entry tax’, ‘octroi’ are all ghosts of the past that must be exorcised, not summoned from the dead.
    Now coming to the 13 points.
    1) The Cantonment Board’s Sale of Land along the Fort’s western wall to the Income Tax Dept. On the 9th of September 2010, Mr. P.V. Pradeep Kumar, Joint Commissioner of the Income Tax Dept. in Belgaum gave precise details of the purchase of this land from the Cantonment Board of Belgaum for Rs. 16,02,612. At the press conference he also confirmed that the Cantonment Board had cleared the building plans and raised no objection to the construction although it was violative of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 2010 ! Indeed, the CEO (Cantonment Board) later claimed that all permission for construction had been given before the Act came into force and hence construction could begin.

    2) The Octroi Compensation funds follow a financial norm established for compensation to all ULB’s, each of which has received the ‘Entry Tax Devolution’ grant, by separate Govt. Order No., for each quarter upto 31st December 2011 as per Govt. records released. They may be independently inspected upon request.

    3) Bungalows in Cantonment are being used for schools, offices, hotels (‘Hotel Green’) etc for decades. These are supposed to be ‘honourable exceptions’ although they are commercial. Why then block a non-commercial ‘District Museum’ ? What’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander, eh?

    4) ‘Octroi Nakas’ and ‘paan stall’s’ are not “trivial issues” if they become traffic hazards that end up causing accidents which maim and kill. I am sorry, Mr. Chandra, if we subscribe to the belief that life is sacred, even if it is the neighbour’s son’s life.

    5) All Cantonments, since the 1924 Act and its consequent Cantonment Land Administration Rules 1925, separate ownership, control and management functions. All land in Cantonments, is, unless proved otherwise, presumed to belong to “the Crown”. Its control and management are divided between the Station Commandant (16 Categories of A-1 land – like aerodromes, firing ranges, barracks, etc.) and the Defence Estates Officer (A-1, A-2, etc lands), Director of Defence Estates (B-grade of land) and the Cantonment Board’s ( C grade of land). The civic duties prescribed in the Act for the Cantonment Board, pertain overwhelmingly to the Civil areas (sadar bazaar areas). In other areas, the Cantonment Board has to refer the matter for decision making to the appropriate authorities. This is a time-honoured separation of responsibilities.

    6) UGD in Belgaum covers only 50% of Belgaum’s road length. There is at present no STP. The Cantonment has only paid for the UGD pipeline length within Cantonment. The nightsoil is discharged into the Corporation’s pipelines- and this is a well known fact.

    7) Mr. Chandra is totally wrong about drinking water. The Cantonment Board’s contribution for the Hidkal project came out of 31 installments of about 4.59 lakhs totally paid by the State Govt. on the Cantonment Board’s behalf as per the arrangement worked out. This totals Rs. 1,16,92,000 and the records are available for inspection. This might have given the impression to some that the “Octroi Compensation” was discontinued in the 1980’s.

    By the way, till today treated water is provided free and the O & M charges are minimal. Mr. Chandra may inspect the last page of the Cantonment Board’s audited accounts for each year.

    8) The Fort is not “under the Army”. There are only a few patches of A-1 grade land (the ramparts, the TA Bn. Area etc). The rest are with the State Govt. (one big chunk of which was leased out to the Ramakrishna Ashram) and the others are private bungalows. The Army only came into the Fort in 1962, when the Mysore State Reserve Police moved out and they captured the Durga Devi Temple from the old Pujari’s son on the night of 8th and 9th of February 2005. The previous D.C. of Belgaum got fed up of requesting permission to execute the splendid conservation and beautification plans (as with our lake) and the Rs. 10 crore grant has remained unused.

    9) Perhaps, Mr. Chandra needs to revisit the Hon’ble Supreme Courts decision on Ramgarh Cantonment Board once again. It is specific to Ramgarh in Jharkhand.

    10) If a vehicle belonging to one of the City Corporations 4,81,000 citizens pays Rs. 20 to pass through 150 metres of Cantonment territory and this money, let’s charitably assume, is used only for the benefit of23,000 Cantonment residents exactly what is this if not a ‘subsidy’. What term would Mr. Chandra be more comfortable with in this sort of economic arrangement ?

    11) Octroi and entry taxes are archaic multi-point tax collection systems. It’s ‘time to wake up and smell the coffee’.

    12) The Cantonment Board’s revenue surpluses do not support Mr. Chandra’s dismal picture painted of Urban local bodies. Perhaps Mr. Chandra should study the audited accounts of the Board a little more carefully.

    13) Mr. Chandra has, in this point, once again missed the wood for the trees, as one cannot get other agencies to maintain one’s roads out of their funds and still collect licence fees from users of these roads. As the Judge of the High Court asked the Cantonment Board’s lawyer on the 13th of February 2012, “What special service is the Cantonment Board providing to these road users?” There has to be a ‘quid pro quo’ for every licence.

    Finally on the day Mr. Chandra posted these 13 points, there were 3 road accidents at Pop-in Toll Naka. All three have been filmed – and were caused by the unruly toll collection boys dashing across the road.
    The Kolavari Di is to prevent deaths at these spots. We don’t want blood of innocents on our conscience.
    Mr. Chandra . . . the choice is yours.

    • my choice apart, it appears you have already made your choice, nitinji. and as ever it is cantonment bashing. i only hope you check your facts and write rather than relying on hearsay and fancy imagination.

      by the way, your comments on b-grade land, amongst others, are c-grade and i had a hearty laugh.

      but yes, i must also say, i have seen better days of yours. many times i have used the landmark judgement regarding closure of roads by army, for which you were instrumental. and with good effect. i must also tell you, that judgement prevented several roads from being closed all over the country. next time iam in belgaum, i’ll definitely meet you.

  3. Royalty free suggestions for them to put Toll Sign Boards at the newly created accident zones.

    1. Slow down, because we have to collect money from you.
    2. You do not matter to us. Your wallet does. Please bring it safely.
    3. Safety of your wallet is of prime importance to us.
    4. You are free to go to heaven. But that does not cover this toll fee.
    5. Phir milenge. For who else will pay us.

  4. on a cursory glance of the above article i have a few points to make:

    1. Cantonment board had not sold any land to the IT dept. IT dept had purchased it from the central govt. no role of Cantt Bd in this.
    2. It is not true that the state govt had continuously released the octroi compensation/ sfc grant to the Bd. it was discontinued in the 80s and restored only a few years back. that too a pittance of what the Bd should get by right.
    3. There is nothing strange about the state govt being prevented from starting a museum in the fort. The said bunglaow was strictly for residential use and any change in the purpose of use should be only after approval from the central govt. in the present case the same was not obtained.
    4. i dont understand why trivial and unconnected issues like octroi nakas and paan stalls are being used to counter the imposition of vehicle entry fees. how are these issues connected?
    5. to say that cantt bd is concerned only with the ‘civil area’ part of the cantonment is very wrong. cantt bd performs its duties in bungalow and army areas as well.
    6. Cantt bd paid its share for the infrastructural cost of underground drainage system for the entire urban agglomeration of belgaum. it is not a free loader.
    7. even for getting hidkal water, cantt bd paid its pro-rata infrastructural cost. to say that it is getting free water and that it is paying only for O&M is incorrect.and worst of it, cantt bd was actually bracketed with commercial organisations and therefore was fixed a higher tariff compared to city corporation though both corporation and the bd serve the same purpose- of providing water to the citizens.
    8. why would the cantt bd stop the state govt from beautifying the fort? the fort is under the management of the army. state govt only needed to take approval of the central govt to do the job. the said approval wasn’t taken. so who’s at fault? what has cantt bd got to do with the matter?
    9. the hon’ble supreme court decision in the ramgarh cantt bd case which every one is quoting left and right, actually upholds the imposition of the vehicle entry tax in the cantonments of Mhow, saugor and jabalpur. in these cantts, the collection of vehicle entry tax is done today without any opposition from the neighbouring municipal corporation.
    10. it is incorrect to say that the people of city corporation are subsidising the people of camp. any commercial vehicle that enters the cantt limits would have to pay the fees. whether it belongs to someone residing in camp or city does not matter.
    11. the same logic applies when vehicle from karnataka enter maharashtra. they have to pay octroi. but vehicles coming from mhr into karnataka dont pay octroi. does that mean karnataka people are subsidising maharashtra people? every state works out its fiscal parameters and does the taxation bit accordingly.
    12. earlier the local bodies used to collect the professional tax, entertainment tax etc. now all these powers are taken away by the state govt. with ever diminishing sources of revenue how will any local body survive? local bodies now have to explore other legal means to get revenue and survive. thats exactly what the cantt bd is doing.
    13. there are many roads within the limits of city corporation which are maintained by PWD and NH. so whats the big deal? every city/cantt bd has roads which are maintained by other agencies like PWD, railways, NH etc.

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