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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: Hundreds of BJP workers from Bhubaneswar district unit took out a rally in the capital city on Friday protesting the steep hike in the holding tax and demanded its revocation within a month.

The saffron party workers took out a massive procession from Mausi Maa Square to Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) office and submitted a memorandum to the Additional Commissioner of BMC Abani Kanta Patnaik.

"When people are struggling for livelihood due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the decision of the Bhubaneswar Municipality to increase the holding tax has burdened the residents financially. If the decision is not withdrawn, BJP will intensify the agitation," threatened party's Bhubaneswar organisational district president, Babu Singh.

It may be noted that following the direction of the State Government's General Administration (GA) department, the civic body had revised the benchmark value of land after 21 years in October last year. Later, several petitions were filed in the Orissa High Court challenging the hike. On September 4, the HC in its judgment directed the BMC to complete the revision of all the non-assessed properties within 15 days before collecting 50 percent of the revised assessment amount.

However, the BJP workers alleged there lacked transparency in the assessment process and as the Orissa High Court's final judgment is yet to come, the BMC should not levy the revised enhanced Holding tax from the residents now.

"The BMC is trying to dupe the people of Bhubaneswar as the Orissa High Court is yet to give its final verdict. Instead of holding talks with the stake holders, the BMC is forcibly levying the tax on the citizens. We give a month time to the BMC to roll back its decision," said another BJP leader, Jagannath Pradhan.

However, additional commissioner of BMC, Abani Kanta Patnaik said, "The BMC is collecting 50 percent Holding tax as per the order of the Orissa High Court. The residents can pay the amount towards Holding/Property tax in yearly installment if one is not able to make the payment at one go till the finalisation of the case in the court. The civic body should collect the tax as per the direction of the High Court," he added.

Earlier on March 8, the Odisha Congress had threatened to gherao the BMC office on March 15 demanding the withdrawal of the revised Holding taxes.


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