Market in Pulwama
Market in Pulwama (File Photo)

PULWAMA — In the southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district, the Municipal Committee has been notifying the shopkeepers, who have rented the civic body’s shops in the town, for hiking the rent but the shopkeepers are resisting any such move.

As per sources in the MC Pulwama, the resistance of these shopkeepers has caused a deadlock between the two, but ‘talks are going on’.

“There are many properties owned by MC Pulwama in the town. Several shopkeepers, whom we rent shops decades ago, are still paying primitive rents. We have been consistently asking them to sign new rent agreement, but they resist the idea outrightly,” a MC Pulwama official said, on the condition of anonymity.

The officer, however, said, “There are some shopkeepers who agree for the hike but they also want the hike by a few hundred rupees. The primitive rents, even if doubled, would be insufficient given the market rate.”

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As per the sources, there are many shopkeepers who pay just Rs. 250 per shop per month, which is quite low given the present market rate. Several shopkeepers, who were asked about the rents, declined to talk about the issue.

However, a meeting between the shopkeepers and Municipal Committee officials is scheduled to be held in a couple of days, where some progress is expected.

Meanwhile, many locals expressed their dismay over the approach of MC Pulwama.

“Municipality has failed to review the rents of shops in the town from decades, resulting in literally no development of the town area. This issue should be addressed without any delay,” a local youth, Saqib said.

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Another local, Jibran said that the shopkeepers need to talk reason and leave the callous approach. “Normally, we pay Rs. 1000 as rent in the town for a shop, but I don’t know why MC Pulwama is causing loss to the public exchequer.”

The locals, however, alleged that MC Pulwama was illegally collecting ‘Adda’ tax (entry tax) for all the vehicles, most of which didn’t pass through the town area.

When asked, Executive Officer (MC Pulwama), Muhammad Iqbal Bhat said that the taxes were Terminal in nature, which the department is authorized to collect.

It is pertinent to mention that local taxes, fund government services including public health, sanitation conservancy, solid waste management and even road maintenance, which benefit the community at large.

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