In what could be another relief for property owners in Bangalore, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is planning to put on hold the collection of improvement charges. Reason: The controversy surrounding the Sakrama scheme.

Realising, rather late–especially after widespread agitation against Sakrama– that the basic purpose of fee collection under the improvement charges (also called betterment fee) and Sakrama 2007 is one and the same, BBMP is seriously considering whether to go ahead with collecting the improvement charges or not, BBMP official sources said.

As per Section 465 of Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, improvement charge is collected to provide basic amenities like road, streetlight, underground drainage and others in a locality. Sakrama 2007 also cites the same reason for collecting the regularisation fee.

“The reason cited for the collection under both provisions is same. The Sakrama scheme promises to plough back 50 per cent of the fee collected for providing basic amenities. It is a kind of dual levy on people. Anybody can challenge this in court. Hence, we are planning to put improvement charge collection on hold,” sources explained.
The issue has been brought to the notice of the Governor’s advisory committee recently. “In all probability, the Government would direct BBMP to drop improvement charge collection, while making the Sakrama mandatory,” sources said.

BBMP in its November 7, 2007 circular had directed its officials to collect improvement charges, mostly in erstwhile CMC areas. The charges stipulated was Rs 60 per sq metre for properties below 60 sq meter, Rs 400 per sq metre for those between 60 sq meter and 120 sq metre and Rs 600 per sq meter for those above 120 sq meter.
In fact, BBMP has been going rather slow in collection of improvement charges. “We have not launched a drive so far for collection and neither we are insisting citizens to pay, despite knowing full well that it will be a major revenue source,” officials stated.