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Municipal corporations can now impose licence fee to clamp down on indiscriminate ad hoardings

Municipal corporations can now impose licence fee to clamp down on indiscriminate ad hoardings

Kolkata: The municipal corporations across the state can now impose licence fee for advertisements to curb indiscriminate installation of advertisement hoardings.

"The introduction of Goods and Service Tax (GST) in 2017 has restricted the autonomy of the municipal corporations and has affected their revenue earning. The fees collected by advertisement through hoardings and billboards have been subsumed under GST. We are not getting licence fee for advertisements and hence finding it difficult to keep track of such hoardings. So, we are introducing advertisement licence fee to curb indiscriminate hoardings in the areas under the municipal corporations," said Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim, while tabling the West Bengal Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, at the state Assembly on Thursday.

Along with this Bill, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2019 and The Howrah Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2019 were also tabled on Thursday. The Bills empower the state government to extend the term of administrator or Board of Administrators for a period of one year.

Earlier the government has extended the term of administrator for six months, hence now the administrator can be at the helm of the municipal corporation for a period of 18 months. Elections will have to be held within this 18 months period. The Bill was passed at the House and awaits the nod of the Governor. The Bills lay special emphasis on heritage conservation. The corporations will have to constitute a committee called Heritage Conservation Committee, with the Mayor of the corporation as its chairman and the commissioner as the convener.

There would be a nominee of the District Magistrate of the concerned department, a nominee of the Director of the state Information & Cultural Affairs department, an eminent architect, an artist, an environmentalist, a historian having knowledge of the region, a concerned executive engineer of the Municipal Engineering Directorate and a Town Planner of the corporation. This committee will determine the heritage status of a property and will grade it accordingly.

"There will be a Heritage Conservation Cell to see whether the heritage is being maintained properly," Hakim said. The provision for imposing fines for spitting or littering public places, streets, hospitals etc. has also been included in the Bills.

"The Bill also has the provision of waiving property tax up to 90 percent, if somebody takes to urban forestry by planting trees on his/her land. The tax deduction will be on the basis of the land where he takes up the plantation programme," the minister said.

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