Jammu- The Union Territory Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Saturday reassured the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the imposition of property tax and said that the doors of his administration are open for a dialogue, even as a day-long strike called by a traders’ body against the move evoked a mixed response here.
“People’s interest is our top priority. The doors of administration are open for dialogue,” Sinha told reporters after conducting on-site inspection of key projects here on Saturday.
The Union Territory administration recently notified the imposition of property tax in municipal areas from April 1. The tax rates will be 5 percent of the annual taxable value for residential properties and 6 per cent for commercial properties.
While some markets in the city remained closed on Saturday, overall there was a mixed response to the bandh call given by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries (JCCI) and the Yuva Rajput Sabha.
Several shopkeepers, who had kept their establishments closed in the morning, opened them later in the day.
Work in the high court and other subordinate courts was also affected as lawyers associated with the Jammu chapter of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association participated in the JCCI-sponsored strike.
Almost all opposition parties, including the National Conference, the Congress, the Democratic Azad Party, and the National Panthers Party, also supported the bandh.
The All J&K Transport Welfare Association, however, was not a part of the strike, claiming that they were not taken into confidence by the traders’ body.
Public transport remained unaffected and was seen plying on the roads since early morning.
The Yuva Rajput Sabha also took out a peaceful march from Bohri to Talab Tiloo on the outskirts of the city and the marchers later dispersed after being stopped by police.
“The people of J&K are wise and intelligent. They understand the situation very well,” Sinha said.
Asked about the all-parties meeting likely to be chaired by NC president Farooq Abdullah at his residence later in the day with property tax being one of the issues on the agenda, Sinha said he does not speak on political issues.
“I believe, we have not left any scope for them on such issues. The interests of the people of J&K have been given top priority while framing the property tax policy. The tax amount fixed is one-tenth of the tax being paid by the people in Shimla, Ambala, and Dehradun,” he said.
He said there will be no tax on property in rural areas and 40 per cent population in urban areas, where 40 per cent of people have to pay around Rs 1000 annually.
Similarly, Sinha said there are 1.01 lakh shops, out of which 46 per cent of shops fall below 100 square feet and have to pay around Rs 700 annually and 36,000 shopkeepers only Rs 2000 annually on account of property tax.
“We have issued toll-free numbers and sought suggestions from the public if they feel there is a scope for improvement. If there is a need for any relief, we will definitely give it to the public,” he said, adding his doors are open for dialogue on the issue.
On the protests by job aspirants over hiring of a previously blacklisted company for conducting computer-based written tests, he said “the issue is before the court and the Constitution does not permit me to speak on it.”
Earlier, the LG expressed satisfaction on the progress of the projects he inspected today.
“The aspirations of the people of Jammu would be fulfilled soon. These projects will boost the Tourism in Jammu and the footfall of tourists from outside will increase the economic activities and income of the people,” he added.
The LG reviewed ongoing construction work of Jambu Zoo, Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams and Tawi Riverfront Project.
He ascertained the progress of the work being carried out at all the three sites, and laid emphasis on timely completion of the projects.
During his visit at the construction site of Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, Sinha interacted with the temple officials and asked them to start construction of a Gurukul and Health Centre simultaneously.
Later, he made an inspectional visit to Tawi Riverfront project site, which envisages to reduce erosion & flood and to provide socio-cultural amenities for sustainable development of the city.
“The vibrant riverfront will ensure urban infrastructure sustainability. Once completed, the project will provide unique business opportunities and help in overall social upliftment. With social infrastructure and recreation facilities, Tawi Riverfront will enhance the quality of life of the citizens,” he said.
Dheeraj Gupta, Principal Secretary to the Government Department of Forest, Ecology & Environment briefed the LG on the progress of Jambu Zoo. He informed that the high level team of Central Zoo Authority will be visiting for the final inspection this month and the entire process will be completed within the time frame.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.