By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, March 15, 2021: Odisha on Monday put the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s decision to collect holding tax at an increased rate, as per the new benchmark value of property, on hold till the final verdict of the Orissa High Court on this matter.

Making an announcement in this regard, Housing and Urban Development and Law Minister Pratap Jena said, keeping in view the larger public interest, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has ordered a stay on holding tax hike in the capital till the government receives further orders from the High Court.

Earlier on the day, Congress activists staged a protest in front of the BMC headquarters at Kalpana square here seeking immediate withdrawal of the decision. BJP leaders had also carried out a rally three days back demanding revocation of the steep hike within a month.

“Relieved to know that owing to resentment of the people of Bhubaneswar, the holding tax increase decision of BMC has been put on hold. Good sense prevailed. Hats off to the collective will and effort of the people of Bhubaneswar,” tweeted Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha MP Aparajita Sarangi immediately after the announcement from the state government came.

The civic body had increased the holding tax after revision of benchmark value of land cost in the capital by the General Administration department in 2019. The department had revised the benchmark value of different mouzas in the city in July 2019 with effect from February 18, 2019.

Accordingly, the Municipal Corporation, in its office order issued on October 1, 2019, had announced to calculate tax at the rate of 17.5 per cent of the annual value of a building taking into account 0.5 per cent of the benchmark value of the property as of April 2019.

The move, however, triggered widespread resentment as many stakeholders and political parties vehemently opposed the revision stating that it will increase the holding tax manifold and severely affect residents as well as traders, especially small vendors and shopkeepers. A petition was also filed in the High Court seeking an immediate rollback of the decision.

Later, on the basis of an interim order of the High Court, the BMC had decided to collect 50 per cent of the revised holding tax for 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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