Bangalore: Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil has sought the approval of MLAs to make commercial establishments and other profit-making agencies operating in villages to pay tax to gram panchayats.
The minister said that at present the gram panchayats have been facing severe fund crunch to create assets because they have no source of considerable income.
He said tax on one sq mt of non-agricultural land is one paisa and for 100 sq mt Re 1.
Such system continues despite the Reserve Bank of India doing away with 25 paisa and 50 paisa coins. It is time to allow more tax non-agricultural land by gram panchayats (GPs), by repealing Schedule 4 of Panchayat Raj Act, 1993, he added.
Patil, a seasoned politician and senior minister, was replying, on Thursday, to protracted debate on his department over the last four days in the Legislative Assembly, where not less than 38 members made a host of suggestions, as well as pointed out lacunae in the three-tier system and Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
The minister pointed out that vehicles, airports, wind mills, solar parks, advertisement agencies, mining firms, stone crushers, private and KSRTC bus stands, mobile phone towers, petrol bunks, private roads, hotels among others located in villages should be made to pay tax or cess or service charge to GPs.
Even airport like Kempe Gowda International Airport falls under a village limit. But none of the airports in the State pay tax to villages. Maximum and minimum tax to be paid could be fixed, he added.
Looking for Bidar MLA and promoter of BMIC Road Ashok Kheny, Patil said, “Kheny should also pay tax to GPs where NICE company’s road is running.”
But Kheny was absent. Interestingly, no member reacted to his constructive proposal. However, BJP MLA Basavaraj Bommai said he had no objection to the proposal.
Patil, referring to the allegations of MLAs regarding irregularities in the implementation of MNREGA scheme, said, the CAG report has indicated that a lot of fund had been misappropriated in the implementation of MNREGA scheme.
Hence, the Lokayukta would be asked to probe into the irregularities.
He said the report had said in March alone Rs 821 crore worth bills were cleared and payments made without issuing bills for Rs 1,771 cr and Rs 617 cr were paid to 63 lakh people who were ineligible for daily wages between 2008-12.
BJP leader Jagadish Shettar requested the minister to include MNREGA scam in Chamarajnagar district. Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa wanted the minister to fix a timeframe for the Lokayukta to complete the probe and file charge sheets.
Referring to staff crunch and indifference to the works in gram panachayats, Patil announced that the services of 27,000 employees would be regularised by August 1.
The minister said the GPs are in need of additional 5,627 data entry operators.
The operators’ service would be on contract basis. At present 3,671 operators are working.
The department is also going to recruit 207 assistant engineers and 407 junior engineers, 352 panchayat development officers besides promoting 819 employees as PDOs and also recruit 300 Grade I and II secretaries, he added.