Bengaluru Mayor T Manjunatha Reddy has pulled out Google Maps to improve City Corporation’s fortunes by widening the property tax net, charging for hoardings strewn all over the city and easing the traffic bottlenecks. Vijay Grover discusses Reddy’s novel move
If the Bengaluru Mayor has his way, soon the Bengaluru City Corporation will be using imagery from Google Maps to measure the built up areas of properties to boost tax revenue collection.
Bengaluru’s biggest challenge has been that the successive bodies have failed to recover overdue property tax due to the rapid pace of urbanisation. In the last decade alone the city has grown in size with neighbouring town panchayats getting added up to its domain.
In the rapid growth several independent houses have given way for complexes and apartment blocks. Many have expanded their floor areas. Yet, the challenge for the BBMP has been that many of the properties have not updated the increased areas in the BBMP records. As a result the BBMP has been losing several hundreds of crores of revenue
Using technology from Google Maps for the first time, the Bengaluru Corporation is all set to get zone wise imagery of the areas where it feels revenue records have not been updated.
“On a trial basis we are picking up three wards out of 198 wards for the study. Google map images will be compared with the plans submitted to us and all deviations will be recorded. We want to keep the data updated. This will help us generate more revenue from these properties which violate norms,” said T Manjunatha Reddy, Mayor of Bengaluru, while speaking to Policy Pulse.
While the use of Google Maps’ technology for boosting revenue from property tax is a first of its kind in the country. The idea has evoked a lot of interest among the people.
AR Zakir, ward representative of Pulakeshi Nagar, says, “The officers at the ground level would not let the proper study be done. And this has been the reason for poor state of revenues where actual collection is far less than what it should be. Now with proper measured satellite imagery at work exact square feet of the built up area can be calculated and the requisite demand note generated. I hope to see a 40 percent incremental revenue from property tax in my ward alone”.
The brainchild of the present BBMP commissioner G Kumar Naik, the idea is an extension of the Google earth study being taken up by the Land Records department to study encroachments of lake beds in the past four decades or so.
This project was initially started to bring transparency and help land, or plot buyers. Through google mapping they could get an idea whether piece of land for sale is a revenue land, or an encroachment on a lakebed, or a Government land.
Speaking to this correspondent, Mayor Manjunath Reddy said his goals and targets are quite optimistic. “We are collecting revenue as of now to the tune of Rs 2,050 crores. The same can be pushed to about Rs 4,000 crores,” he remarked.
The special thrust for generation of revenue is seeing the Commissioner-Mayor duo also to crackdown on illegal hoardings that have sprung up in the city. “We will use technology to ensure that we can generate revenue for Bengaluru’s development. Sadly most of the blame for all the urban and civic problems falls in our lap,” said Manjunath Reddy.
City’s traffic continues to be the big challenge and the Mayor hopes, with proper mapping of the city in the coming months the BBMP can hit upon some more tech solutions vis-à-vis traffic too, courtesy Google.