The now-bankrupt Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL), whose promoters, the Wadhawans, are in jail in connection with the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank fraud case, owes Rs 273 crore to the BMC in property tax, making it the single biggest property tax defaulter in Mumbai, according to a civic official. The sum represents more than 10 per cent of property tax defaults across the entire city (Rs 2,644 crore).
The BMC has now written to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which has attached HDIL’s properties – both stalled projects and private properties belonging to the Wadhawans – in order to auction them, saying it should be paid on a priority basis.
A civic official said: “This is highest property tax due and we are afraid that this amount will be stuck for a long time. That is why we have written to the NCLT to auction the properties of HDIL and release the tax money as soon as possible.”
HDIL owes the BMC more than Rs 21crore in tax on a single housing project – Majestic Tower – in Bhandup’s S Ward alone, the official told Mirror, making it the biggest defaulter in the ward. Work on the project is stalled and the BMC sealed the premises recently.
The figures came to light as the BMC starting drawing up a list of Top 10 property tax defaulters in each ward in Mumbai. The list includes several developers, who fortunes have dipped owing to the sharp slump in the real estate sector, private companies, SRA and other residential buildings, and colleges.
The BMC has started taking strict action against property tax defaulters. On Tuesday, the civic body seized two helicopters owned by an airline and disconnected the water supply of the Wadhwa Trade Centre. Officials also disconnected the water supply of several residential societies across the city, including in Sion, Matunga, Bandra, Andheri and Versova, and said they would intensify the drive in the coming weeks.
According to the BMC, K West ward officials seized two helicopters from Mesco Airlines, based in Juhu, after the company failed to pay Rs 1.64 crore in property tax. The official said notices were served and the company was contacted multiple times but it failed to respond. In H East ward, the officials disconnected the water supply of the 19-storey Wadhwa Trade Centre and confiscated the water meter, as the company owed Rs 11.88 crore in tax.
Last week the BMC started an awareness drive involving drummers beating their instruments in front of residential and commercial premises, to remind citizens to pay their taxes. Officials used loud-hailers to announce that defaulters would face severe action, including seizure of household items and property and disconnection of utilities.
Around Rs 1,387 crore had been collected in property tax till November 30, 2019, or just 25 per cent of the total Rs 5,016-crore target for 2019-2020.