For Whom The DMC Tolls - Eastern Mirror
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For Whom the DMC Tolls

By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 03, 2016 12:01 am

After a lull for some months the Dimapur Municipal Council toll tax imbroglio surfaces yet again. As alleged by various civil societies in Dimapur, a fresh notification from the Municipal Affairs Department was given on September 16, to lease the toll collection to other third parties. There is no official pressr release from the department on this matter till date. This is an issue that started in 2013 between the Municipal Affairs Cell under the Urban Development Department and the Dimapur municipality and it continues till today.

The contention of the department of urban development was that the municipality had violated the law by giving extension to the forty plus lessees whose lease expired in March 2013 after completion of one year of lease period, as stipulated in Section 199 of the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001. The cited section of the particular Act permits the municipalities that it may lease out collections of octroi and tolls to third parties with prior sanction of the government and a for a lease period not exceeding one year. The department was right in their contention and the writ petition by the aggrieved lessees was dismissed by the Gauhati High Court.

However the matter did not end there since the Act do not specify if the list of the lessees has to be first approved by the government or whether the municipality just have to take the permission for the appointment of lessee. The clear interpretation of Section 199 in this matter may take some time if it ends in the court of law unless the government amend the Act by adding some more lines to it. Moreover the Act in no way makes the appointment of lessees mandatory for the collection of tax; Section 120 of that empowers the municipality the right to collect tolls, taxes, octroi and other levies has no mention about lease and lessees.

At present the Dimapur Municipal Council has stopped the lease system and it collects the toll directly through its employees. Unless interpreted otherwise and unless there is a case of misuse the government has no authority to stop the municipality from collecting tolls and taxes. But the non conduct of elections make the government the owner of the municipality and its properties and so the appointment of a government officer on behalf of the government as the administrator or chief executive may be some points for the government that at present the government has the final say.

At ground level, the people of Dimapur municipal area have been enjoying the benefits of the toll collection by the staffs of DMC. Several roads and drains in the municipal area have been repaired from the funds collected. The public had never experienced such fast paced developmental works before and the credit also goes to the administrator in-charge. Any municipality is constituted purely for the benefit of the denizens under its jurisdiction and not for a few with vested interests, and therefore the public is at present on the side of the municipality. The government may have the right and want to flex its muscles but it may end up ruffling too many feathers as the public outcry is increasing daily against the lessee system.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 03, 2016 12:01:00 am
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