Mrunal Manmay Dash

Irked by the ‘user’s fee’ levied by the Municipal authorities on the residents of Puri for waste management, the locals in the Pilgrim town staged a Satyagrah in front of the civic body office on Tuesday demanding immediate roll back on the decision.

As per reports, the Puri Municipality has begun collecting users’ fee besides the regular holding tax for waste management in the town from November 10. Locals alleged that despite the Collector’s assurance to hold meetings and discuss the matter with the residents before the actual collection of the fee, the civic body have never really paid attention to their request.

The agitating locals drew comparison with the notorious Jizya Tax levied by the Mughal emperors. They said at a time when the Municipal authorities are collecting crores of Rupees in the form of holding tax from the local residents, it is entirely ridiculous to levy a separate waste management tax on them.

An agitating resident said, “This is a burden on the residents of Puri which they will have to bear only because of the incompetency of civic authorities. We request the district Collector to withdraw the order with immediate effect.”

Another local resident staging protest in front of the Municipality office said, “Puri Municipality gets at least Rs 4 Cr as holding tax from the residents. It even gets Rs 5 Cr as funds from both the Centre and State in the head of waste management. Despite that, the Municipality has begun collecting users’ fee, which is unconstitutional.”

The locals further alleged that the third party vendors roped in for collecting fees have been demanding the users’ fee for a whole year at once which they said was illegal.

It is worthwhile to mention here that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Puri, Jayanta Sarangi had convened a press conference on November 15 to condemn the act by the Municipality. He said it is the responsibility of the Municipality to manage the waste generated by the residents. And they have been collecting several taxes on this head. “This new waste management tax is totally uncalled for,” Sarangi had stated.