Sealing on cards for Gurugram malls flouting free parking rule

After receiving complaints that at least three malls on Sohna Road were charging takers for parking despite advertising free space for the same at the entrance, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has decided to form teams to carry out inspections at these facilities and seal basements of violators, officials said Monday.

In June 2017, the MCG had decided to give property tax exemption to malls and commercial buildings where basements offered free parking to commuters. The move was aimed at reducing the problem of on-road parking in the city by offering residents the option of availing free parking facility at such establishments in congested areas. At the time, owners of 45 malls and corporate buildings had opted to provide free parking to residents. Currently, there are 39 such facilities in zone 4 alone, with MCG officials saying that, in all, the city has 110 such buildings.

In zone 4, some areas that are under MCG’s jurisdiction include sectors 32, 47, 50, 51, 70, 71, 75, South City 2, Ardee City, Malibu Towne and Nirvana Country.

“Two weeks ago, we received complaints that several malls on Sohna Road that had agreed to offer free parking and got property tax exemption were charging takers for availing free parking facility. Upon verifying we found the allegations to be true and accordingly served notices to the owners of the facilities that a future violation would lead to their basements being sealed entirely. We are in the process of constituting teams that will regularly conduct inspections at all sites to check for such violations and take the requisite measures (seal spaces),” MCG zonal taxation officer Dinesh Kumar said. He added that building owners have the option of opting out of the policy in the next fiscal and pay the property taxes for their basements instead. MCG officials, however, refused to share the names of violators.

Until March 2017, there were no specific guidelines or policies in place for charging property taxes on basements of building, which did not have paid parking. On the directions of the then MCG commissioner V Umashankar, the taxation department formulated a free parking exemption policy officials said.

“In 2017, we found that there were no specific guidelines, by the Centre or Haryana, for assessing property tax on the basements of commercial buildings. Since a lot of establishments had paid parking facility and were getting monetary benefits, we had initially decided to charge property tax on basements of all commercial buildings. However, simultaneously we also found many basements where the occupancy was low and there were no paid parking facility. Hence, we formulated a policy which catered to all such commercial building owners while also simultaneously providing a solution to parking woes,” said a senior MCG official privy to the matter.

MCG officials also said that building owners, who have opted for the policy, have complained that many people park their vehicles in the establishment for weeks, free of cost, and drivers of cab-based aggregators have started using the facility to station their vehicles as well.

MCG officials said they are looking at possibilities of making alterations in the policy which will limit the duration for free parking, but the decision on whether the building owner can tow the vehicle after the free parking duration ends or charge for parking is proving to be a major point of contention.

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