The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is yet to recover over Rs 1,000 crore pending fees in connection with various construction projects from builders.
The BBMP collects ground rent, licence fee, building licence fee, scrutiny fee and miscellaneous fee for sanctioning plans from builders. The collection was partially stopped after realtors approached the high court, challenging a circular increasing the fees.
The high court directed the civic body to collect half the amount of the total fee and in August 2021, it held the circular ultra vires. With the prospect of having to refund Rs 2,362 crore it had collected staring BBMP in the face, the Karnataka Municipal Corporation And Certain Other Law (Amendment) Act-2021 was amended in January 2022. This not only enabled BBMP to retain the money it had collected but also recover pending fees to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore.
Veeresh, an RTI activist, who will be filing the complaint in this connection with the competent authorities, told TOI that between 2015 to 2021, the urban local body only collected partial fee amount from the relators who had approached the court and over 100 builders had moved the high court. This cost BBMP hugely and according to a rough estimate, the due is around Rs 1,200 crore.
Veeresh said the Palike that has amended the law is yet to initiate the process to collect pending money. He alleged Palike officials are deliberately delaying it due to builder-official nexus. Amaresh S, a civic activist, said the civic body always talks about fund crunch when it comes to paying compensation to the public but it cannot set the ball rolling to collect pending fees.
Girish, additional director, BBMP (town planning), admitted that the Palike is yet to initiate the process. He, however, said they don’t have accurate figures with regard to pending fees but it may run up a little less than Rs 1,000 crore.
“We are taking advice from the legal department and in my opinion, a revised fee circular has to be issued,” he said. He also said BBMP had not collected 50% of the total fees from everyone and the amount collected was based on what the court had said in individual cases. In some cases, it was 50% and in others, less. The Palike will soon start the process to recover the dues, he added.