Majority of IT land remains unoccupied: CAG

Monday, Jun 29, 2015,21:12 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuiram | The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has noted that a major chunk of land and built up space allotted to IT sector in Kerala remained unoccupied  due to remoteness of chosen locality and lack of facilities.
On the other hand, several tourism infrastructure projects did not commence due to failure to acquire land, poor planning, design and execution. This was pointed out in the CAG report laid on the table of the Kerala Assembly today.
Out of 1384.12 acres of land provided for IT development from 1990 to 2010 , only 504.40 acres (36 per cent) had been utilised by November 2014. The Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) acquired 402.65 acres of land at seven different places in the State to set up Hub and Spoke model for IT purpose. Due to remoteness of chosen locality, built up space of 3.19 lakh sqft out of 3.94 lakh sqft remained unallocated in these locations.
In Technopark II, land to two major IT companies , Infosys and UST Global, were allocated at subsidised rates without any basis resulting in short recovery of Rs 22.53 crore. Neither the rule or criteria to govern fixation and collection of lease rent were prescribed nor the agreements prescribed a uniform rate of lease rent to be paid by co-developers. This had extended Infosys undue benefit of Rs 3.60 crore.
It also noted that the flagship programme of Kerala Tourisms Sea Plane Project failed to take off after incurring Rs 23.29 crore due to lapses in addressing the concerns of livelihood of fishermen community.
An audit of financial transactions in various Local Self-Government Institutions and Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project had revealed instances of idle investment, loss of revenue, unfruitful expenditure and non-compliance with rules.
The CAG noted that there was a lapse on the part of the local bodies to levy and collect local taxes like property tax, professional tax, entertainment tax, advertisement tax, building permit fee and business establishment licence free.
As of March 2014,  a sum of Rs 25.38 crore was pending collection towards tax revenue in the test-checked  40 Grama Panchayats, 20 Municipalities and one Municipal  Corporation.
Property tax collection efficiency of local bodies was not encouraging. The LSGIs did not have an appropriate system to identify and list all buildings liable for Property tax assessment. There was delay in revision of Property tax assessment. Though the new system of assessment based on plinth area was made applicable to existing assesses from 2013 on wards, the assessment was pending in all the LSGIs test-checked, resulting in short levy of Property tax of  Rs 8.54 crore.
It also noted that the LSGIs were not maintaining complete details in respect of unauthorized constructions. Out of 1622 unauthorized constructions recorded  by four LSGIs, complete details were available only in respect of 66 cases, for which Property tax leviable was Rs two crore.
Lack of comprehensive database relating to Profession tax has affected tax collection to a great extent. Various categories of assesses, including professionals and traders, had escaped assessment resulting in leakage of revenue of  Rs 98.45 lakh.
It noted that due to relaxing the terms of contract in favour of the contractor without any genuine reason, Thrissur Corporation suffered a revenue loss of  Rs 50.09 lakh.
The CAG also pointed out that the role of the Central Government scheme  Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns was reduced to mere Solid Waste Management and Water Supply Schemes, defeating the main objective of integrated development of towns.
Even after nine years of initiation of the projects and after the expiry of the scheme in 2014, only two projects were completed out of 25 projects undertaken. Delay in completion was mainly due to delay in issuing Administrative Sanction by the Government  which has led to delay in implementation and cost escalation.