Palike's GIS-based property mapping comes a cropper

Shoddy physical survey by BBMP's Revenue section attributed as reason

 This project was seen as a game-changer for the cash-strapped Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). But the Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of properties has turned out to be damp squib.

Despite the completion of the GIS mapping of all immovable properties in its jurisdiction, there is neither any significant increase in the number of taxable properties nor in the property tax for the BBMP. The main reason, according official sources, is the shoddy physical survey done by the Palike’s Revenue section.

A lot of hope was pinned on the project taken up in 2009-10. As it involved identification, digitisation and physical survey of every property, the BBMP believed that all unassessed properties will be traced and brought under the tax net.

Besides, it was believed that the physical survey would expose those who were underassessing and making a false declaration. The BBMP had been hoping for a windfall tax collection from the project.

It has, however, dashed all hopes. The project, official sources said, was divided into two components: First, preparation of the base map of properties and creation of new Property Identification (PID) numbers; second, validation by conducting physical survey.

While the contract for the first component was awarded to the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Limited, the second component was done by the Revenue section of the BBMP.

The Revenue section, comprising tax inspectors and revenue officers in each ward, is understood to have hardly conducted any survey by visiting property sites. Most of these officials completed it by copy-pasting the existing details. Thus, the very purpose of the project was defeated, officials said.

A quick glance at the difference in tax collection and its target in the last four years, perhaps, sums up the whole story. The BBMP had 11.02 lakh properties in 2009-10, when the project was taken up. Currently, it has 16.19 lakh properties – a jump of 5.17 lakh.
An ambitious target

As far as the tax collection is concerned, the BBMP’s total tax collection in 2009-10 was Rs 797 crore, and in 2013-14, it was Rs 1,323 crore. The BBMP had actually set an ambitious target of Rs 2,500 crore collection in 2013-14, hoping that the GIS mapping project would trigger the increase. But it fell short of the target by a whopping Rs 1,177 crore.

This is not all. A majority of the Assistant Revenue Officers (AROs) are neither maintaining property registers nor creating a digital version of the property registers (also Demand Collection book) as part of the project. The registers are important documents, which will have complete information on the description of every property such the sital area, the built-up area, rented portion, own-use portion and commercial use. An ARO has to update these information whenever there is any change in any of these features of a property.

IT adviser to the BBMP, T Sheshadri, said the physical survey work was not given on contract fearing that the citizens would resist persons from private companies conducting a survey of their properties. So, the Revenue section conducted it. Moreover, the BBMP saved a lot of money by doing so, he said.

But he did not comment on the quality of the physical survey.

Contradictory versions

Bangalore district in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy and the BBMP officials have come up with different figures on the total number of properties. While the minister has claimed there are around 25 lakh properties, Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) I Ramakanth said the BBMP had around 17 lakh properties.

Sheshadri, on the other end, claimed that GIS mapping has identified 16.19 lakh properties in 198 wards of the BBMP. Another two lakh properties, likely to be added as validation of new properties created in the last two years, are still pending, he added.
40 lakh taxable properties

The intriguing fact is that the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) has 45.05 lakh connections in the BBMP jurisdiction. Even if it is assumed that there are about five lakh borewell connections, about 40 lakh electricity connections are being used for either residential or commercial purposes. This, in other words, can be assumed that the BBMP has about 40 lakh taxable properties, including rented portions, being used for both residential and non-residential purposes, official sources said.

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