By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 24 Jan: Dehradun Nagar Nigam’s proposal to issue licences to every business operating in the Municipal limits of Dehradun is highly questionable. The Nagar Nigam has proposed a licensing scheme for every category of business operating from within the municipal limits of the city. Not only this, the Nigam has proposed a hefty licence fee for each category. For example, schools up to 12th class have been assessed at Rs 40,000 per annum, while nurseries will have to shell out Rs 30,000 per annum. Every business including all kinds of shops, restaurants, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals and clinics have been covered in the proposed licence fee scheme. This scheme is in addition to the House Tax already applicable on all properties in the city. Even this tax has been increased sharply by the Nagar Nigam, particularly in case of commercial properties, where the hike is 40 percent. The Health Department issues licenses to hospitals, nursing homes, clinics as well as restaurants, etc. Similarly, all schools are opened with the approval and permission of the School Education Department. Factories are run under licence from various departments while shops and establishments are also registered under the shop and establishment act and under the GST and Sales Tax departments. Hence, when licences are given by respective departments, there is hardly any logic in imposing another mandatory licence on the businesses. In fact, the inspiration for double licensing seems to have come from the Urban Development Department, as all the Nagar Nigams including Haridwar, Kotdwar, Roorkee, Haldwani, Rudrapur and Kashipur have proposed imposition of the licensing scheme. While, in states like Maharashtra, Municipal Corporations are the licensing authorities for restaurants, hotels, etc., a grading scheme is implemented according to which licence fee is applicable. What is funny is that the state government has not deemed it fit to hand over what ought to be a natural major source of income to Nagar Nigams in the form of map approvals for buildings. This has been recommended under the 74th Amendment to the Constitution. However, this task has been given to District Development Authorities in Uttarakhand, the MDDA in the case of Dehradun. This proposed hefty licence fee scheme was bound to enrage the traders and the business community in the cities and they are up in arms against the scheme. Speaking to Garhwal Post, General Secretary of the ‘Pradesh Udyog Mandal evam Vyapar Samiti, Vinay Goyal said it was ironic that, when the state government had not been able to propose any new tax, the Nagar Nigams were intending to impose this unprecedented licensing scheme with a hefty fee. He added that, already, the economy and business were undergoing a recession and, therefore, they were not in a position to pay yet another tax. He also claimed that Nagar Nigams had been given hefty grants under various schemes by the state and the Centre and were not facing a severe financial crisis. There was no need to propose a new licence fee. He disclosed that several delegations had called on the Dehradun Mayor Sunil Uniyal ‘Gama’ as well as Urban Development Minister Madan Kaushik to express total disagreement with this new scheme. All the business organisations were totally against the licensing.