Jawaharlal Nehru's Prayagraj ancestral home gets Rs. 4.35cr tax notice
The historic Anand Bhawan in Prayagraj, the home where former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was born, has been slapped with a Rs. 4.35 crore tax notice by the city's Municipal Corporation. Reportedly, the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation (PMC) is seeking dues, which include tax arrears since 2003, on the Anand Bhawan, Swaraj Bhawan, and Jawahar Planetarium- all run by the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust.
Buildings used for commercial purposes, claims PMC
According to IANS, PMC sent a tax notice to the three buildings claiming they're being used for commercial purposes, and hence, enhanced house tax is payable. "We conducted a survey to decide the amount of tax," PMC chief tax assessment officer PK Mishra told ANI, "We also invited objection on the assessment but received none. Then, we finalized our assessment and sent the notice."
Anand Bhawan, Swaraj Bhawan serve as Independence-era museums
Notably, the Anand Bhawan (the ancestral home of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru) now serves as a museum, showcasing artifacts and articles dating back to the Indian independence movement. The Swaraj Bhawan is also a museum filled with memorabilia of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Memorial Trust responds to tax notice citing irregularities
In response to the notice, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund's Administrative Secretary N Balakrishnan sent a letter to PMC, citing irregularities in the tax assessment. According to The Times of India, in the letter, Balakrishnan claimed, "A bill of Rs. 3,000 for 2003-04 was received and duly paid by the trust." Reportedly, the letter was dated November 8.
House tax increased despite no new construction, claims Balakrishnan
Balakrishnan added, "However, in 2005, a bill of Rs. 24.67L was sent for 2004-05. Then a yearly bill of Rs. 12.34L was sent till 2013-14, but in 2014-15 the tax amount was reduced to Rs. 8.27L." He claimed house tax was increased despite no new construction at the premises in the past four decades and vacant land was also included in the assessment.
Related files/documents to be studied before further steps: PMC Mayor
Mishra said, "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. We will make a decision after receiving the survey report." Separately, Mayor Abhilasha Gupta 'Nandi' added, "The related files and documents will now be studied before taking further steps in this direction."
Ex-PMC Mayor claims Trust exempt from all taxes
Meanwhile, ex-PMC Mayor Chaudhary Jitendra Nath Singh told ANI the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust is exempt from all types of taxes. "The imposition of tax on Anand Bhawan is wrong," Singh said, "This is a monument of Independence struggle and a museum of memorabilia. This is a center of education." Prayagraj resident Abhya Awasthi alleged the notice is the Bharatiya Janata Party's political vendetta.