The iconic Anand Bhawan, Swaraj Bhawan and Jawahar Planetarium in Prayagraj, have been served a notice of Rs 4.35 crore as house tax by the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation (PMC).
Anand Bhawan and Swaraj Bhawan have been home to the Nehru family. The Swaraj Bhawan now serves as a museum of memorabilia related to the Nehru family while Anand Bhawan is also a museum, showcasing various artifacts and articles of the era of Independence movement in India. The three buildings are maintained by the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, a charitable trust headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
According to PMC officials, the notice has been served on the ground that Anand Bhawan and the adjoining buildings are being used for commercial purposes and hence enhanced house tax is payable.
P K Mishra, chief tax assessment officer, Prayagraj Municipal Corporation, said, “Around two weeks ago, we had sent a house tax notice on Anand Bhawan, Swaraj Bhawan and Jawahar Planetarium. In reply, we have received a letter from N Balakrishnan, the administrative secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in Delhi. The letter has been forwarded to the Zonal Office (four) with instructions to carry out a detailed survey and submit a report regarding the total pending dues. Further decision would be taken after receiving the report.”
Mayor Abhilasha Gupta ‘Nandi’ said a letter had been received from Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund in New Delhi with a request to review the commercial tax levied on Anand Bhawan and the adjoining complexes since they are heritage buildings.
“The related files and documents will now be studied before taking further steps in this direction,” the Mayor said.
PMC officials said Anand Bhawan and related buildings had been surveyed as commercial properties.
N Balakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund secretary in Delhi, said a bill of Rs 3,000 was received by the trust in 2003-04, which was duly paid.
However, in 2005, a bill of over Rs 24.67 lakh for the year 2004-05 was sent to the Fund. The yearly bill of Rs 12.34 lakh continued to be sent till 2013-14 but it was reduced to Rs 8.27 lakh since 2014-15.
N Balakrishnan further said Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund was a charitable trust and not involved in any commercial activities. The trust was exempted from such taxes under Section 117B of Nagar Nigam Act 1959.
The house tax was increased though no new constructions were done since the last four decades in the premises, he said in the same letter. The calculation of house tax was not done properly and even the vacant land was included.
“The Prayagraj Municipal Corporation has sent a bill of several crores despite the fact that the issue is pending in court. Further action would be taken after receiving instructions from the senior authorities of the trust in Delhi,” said Ravi Kiran, who oversees the Prayagraj unit of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.