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For the 1st time J&K gov imposes land & house taxes shocking residents

EconomyFor the 1st time J&K gov imposes land & house taxes shocking residents

The Jammu and Kashmir Government issues a notification of imposing a property tax on land, houses, and buildings across J&K.

This is the first time residents of Jammu and Kashmir will have to pay house, land, and property taxes and while the Badami Bagh Cantonment Board begins levying property tax in Srinagar areas, the locals are horrified

Residents of several localities including Sonwar, Indra Nagar, Batwara, and Shivopora said that they have received property tax bills from the Board for the ongoing year. The bills have been charged as per the value of the property and range from Rs 2000-20,000.

The authorities, according to locals, have unilaterally assessed their properties and charged the amounts to be paid.

“No part of Srinagar or any other area of Jammu and Kashmir pays any tax on their own properties. This is a new gift after the abrogation of article 370,” Kashmir Life quoted a group of locals from Indra Nagar as saying.

In recollection, JK Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had last year mentioned that the JK administration would not impose any property tax on the people in JK.  He had said ‘“Some people are saying that property tax will be levied from people of J-K. I am telling you clearly that no such tax would be levied in by the UT administration,” Sinha had said while addressing people in the Baramulla district.

Sinha, however, said that nobody should have any objection if elected representatives will take any decision for increasing facilities for the general public.

The local residents, extremely upset saying that the government has gone back on its word and say this move will magnify their miseries.  A man said, “I am a laborer and have worked hard to buy this property. This is my property, why should I pay the tax. Until now no one asked us to pay tax. Why are they doing it now.”

Earlier in February this year, the administration of Jammu and Kashmir has ordered that the value of land notified in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Preparation and Revision of Market Value Guideline Rules, 2011 should appropriately be factored in while fixing the property tax.

The Housing and Urban Development Department had ordered that the value of land notified is adequately factored in while determining the unit area values for levy of property tax under different laws.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by the Jammu & Kashmir Property Tax Board Act, 2013, the Jammu & Kashmir Municipal Act, 2000, and the Jammu & Kashmir Municipal Corporation Act,2000, the Government hereby direct that for the levy of property tax on any land or building, the value of land as notified in terms of Jammu & Kashmir Preparation and Revision of Market Value Guideline Rules, 2011(circle rate) shall be a key determinant of the value of the property apart from the nature of construction, the kind of use, the age of the property, or any other relevant consideration,” read the notification.

It further added: “The Property Tax Board, or as the case may be, the Municipal Corporation, Council or Committee concerned shall ensure that the value of land so notified is adequately factored in while determining the unit area values for levy of property tax under the aforesaid Acts.”

A Kashmiri said, “Kashmir like nowhere else in the world has undergone two major lockdowns one after the abrogation of article 370, and then after COVID, three years lockdown which has crippled our businesses and we have no income.”

A Kashmir artisan said, “There are no jobs, how can we pay anything?  After the abrogation of 370, Kashmir is suffering from health issues and mental health issues, how can people be happy if lives are uncertain, new taxes raised, no jobs, the economy doing bad, tourism struggling to rise but not able to pick up. The government is only interested in giving government jobs to Indians all across the country when Kashmiris themselves don’t have jobs, now you tell me, who can be happy like this?”

The abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August 2019 was deemed a masterstroke in India bifurcating J&K into two Union Territories. Due to this, a lockdown was imposed in Kashmir which affected the Kashmiris in many arenas – physically, emotionally, financially, and politically. The lockdown also led to high stress levels, anxiety, and depression.

The financial sector was hit in vast proportions crippling businesses further with the suspension of the Internet, mobile phones even down exclusions of SMS. The J&K lockdown led to Rs 12,000 crore loss during the 100 days lockdown.

KCCI president Sheikh Ashiq Hussain said, “A single day’s shutdown in Kashmir results in a loss of Rs 125 crore. Every kind of business was hit badly in Kashmir since August 5th and yet no one is taking responsibility for it.”

Another nightmare erupted in December 2019 when COVID-19 stalked the Earth. During the vigorous lockdowns executed over nations, economies crashed to deeper degrees. For Kashmir, it was a double blow that hit harder than any other place on Earth because J&K had already suffered intensely during the previous 100 day’s lockdown.

Core sectors of the economy of J&K have witnessed a steep decline after the abrogation of Article 370. Due to the communications bar, tough lockdown, curfews, and militant threats,  the economy of Kashmir lost over INR 178.78 billion and lost more than 100,000 jobs in the sectors of handicraft, tourism, and information technology.

This is the first time in the past 70 years that rural Kashmir is facing such a great degree of economic slowdown. Tourism has been destroyed, the horticulture industry is fading.  During the previous lockdown, the apple industry in Kashmir, worth INR 80 billion which contributes eight percent of J&K’s GDP, has been pulverized and is trying to make a slow recovery now.

While the world is hit by financial fall due to COVID-19, for Kashmir, it is a double-axed blow by the intense lockdown due to the abrogation of Article 370, and then lockdown due to COVID-19.

It is tragic that at such a time as this when Kashmiris have no income after 3 years of lockdown, they are now burdened with new taxes.  With no income generating, is this fair?


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