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Friday, January 25, 2013

The West Bengal Municipal Act, 1993

Previously the Municipal Affairs of this State was administered by the Bengal Municipal Act, 1932. Later, in the end of '80s it was felt necessary to replace the said Act with an updated legislation. Accordingly the West Bengal Municipal Act, 1993 has been enacted on the 13th day of July, 1994 and the said new Act has replaced the Bengal Municipal Act, 1932.

Salient features of the West Bengal Municipal Act, 1993 are as follows:
  1. Fixing Conditions and procedure for constitution of a new Municipality or inclusion of an area within an existing municipal. For constitution of a Municipality an area shall have to fulfill the mandatory conditions of a minimum total population of 30,000 (as per last preceding census), a population density of 750 per sq. km., at least 50% adult population of the area shall have to be engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and probable municipal income from the area should be adequate to run the functions of the proposed municipality. If any area is already urbanized but does not comply with any of the above mentioned conditions this area may be declared as a Notified Area.
  2. Clear determination of administrative structure of the Municipality. As per these provisions the Chairman is the executive head of the Municipality. The Chairman nominates one Councillor as the Vice Chairman. In Group A, B and C Municipalities there are Chairman-in-Councils. Apart from the Chairman and the Vice Chairman there are other members (for Gr. A -5, for Gr. B – 4, for Gr. C – 3) nominated by the Chairman from among the Councillors. In Group D and E Municipalities the powers and functions of the Chairman-in-Council devolves on the Chairman. Apart from provisions have been made for empowering the Municipalities to constitute Advisory/ recommendery bodies to seek expert help in their work by constitution of Standing Committees, Special Committees, and Joint Committees.
  3. Constitution of ward committees is each ward of every municipality to involve general citizen in civic administration.
  4. Detailed provision for the procedure for conduct of business of different elected functionaries and municipal officials and their powers.
  5. Power and functions of the Municipality.
  6. Procedure for custody, applications and use of municipal fund.
  7. Power of the municipalities to hold, acquire and dispose of movable and immovable properties.
  8. Provision for preparation of Accounts is Municipal fund annual statutory audit and internal audit thereof and constitution of Municipal Accounts Committee.
  9. Powers of the Municipalities to impose different taxes and fees. The municipalities are empowered to impose fees on congregation, tourists, toll in heavy truck, and levy of special conservancy charges. Apart from this the Municipalities are empowered to impose fees for licenses issued and permissions granted under the provisions of the Act. The main plank of internal resource of the Municipalities is property tax on lands and buildings. Provisions have been made to determine such property tax on the basis of a formula. But such tax (annual) shall not exceed 30% of the annual value of the land or building concerned. Though the Union Government proportions are exempted from property tax but the Municipalities are empowered to impose service charge on such properties at such rates as may be determined by the Central Government. As per provision of this Act Diplomatic Missions, places of public worship, Government or Government aided educational institutions, holdings used for charitable purposes, welfare homes run by the Government and the buildings with a valuation of Rs. 500/- or less are exempted from payment of property tax. In every five years the periodic assessment of holdings is done. Detailed procedure fro such assessment is made in the Act.

    Apart from the above the Municipalities are entitled to impose, -
    1. fee for enlistment of profession, trade end callings at a maximum rate of Rs. 1500/- per annum [The State Government, in Municipal Affairs Deptt., has circulated as model regulation is the matter for adoption by the Municipalities];
    2. fee for issue of license for use of a site for advertisement and also a tax on advertisement on the basis of a regulation made by the Municipalities with the approval of the State Government [The State Government, in Municipal Affairs Deptt., has circulated as model regulation is the matter for adoption by the Municipalities].
    3.  tax for registration of carts and carriages [the rates have been mentioned in the West Bengal Municipal (Finance & Accounting) Rules, 1999];
    4. tolls on ferries and bridges;
    5. stallage, rent and fee on markets;
    6. fee for issue of hawking licenses and the licenses for sale of flesh, fish or poltry;
  10. Provisions for realization / recovery of taxes.
  11. Powers to control and regulate all public through fares including public streets and private streets.
  12. Power of the Municipalities to regulate building activities and to ensure structural safety. Through building rules and sanction building plan on realisation of fees as per provisions of the West Bengal Municipal (Building) Rules, 2007.
  13. Provision regarding power of the Municipalities in regard to supply of water and issue permission for digging wells and sinking tube wells, and realization of fees therefor.
  14. Power and function of the Municipality to control, maintain and regulate drains and sewerage.
  15. Manner of solid waste management to be followed by the Municipalities.
  16. Provisions regarding control and maintenance of markets and slaughter houses by the Municipality.
  17. Provision regarding fire prevention and fire safety.
  18. Detailed procedure regarding preparation of Draft Development Plan.
  19. Special Provisions regarding hill Municipalities with an emphasis to safety measures required to be taken in such areas.
  20. Power of the Municipality to ensure public safety by removing nuisances and restraining infection.
  21. Provision delineating the role of the Municipality for maintenance of vital statistics and disposal of dead.
  22. Separate Chapters related to Notified Area Authority and Industrial Townships.
Rules famed under the West Bengal Municipal Act, 1993:
To implement the provisions of this Act the following rules have been made.
  1. The West Bengal Municipal (Building) Rules, 2007;
  2. The West Bengal Municipal (Finance & Accounting) Rules, 1999;
  3. The West Bengal. Municipalities (Procedure & Conduct of Business) Rules, 1995;
  4. The West Bengal Municipal (Ward Committee) Rules, 2001;
  5. The West Bengal Municipal (Duties and Responsibilities of Executive Officer) Rules, 2003;
  6. The West Bengal Municipalities (Remuneration and Allowances) Rules, 1996;
  7. The West Bengal Municipal (Internal Audit) Rules, 1997;
  8. The West Bengal Municipal (Submission of Annual Administrative Report) Rules, 1996;
  9. The West Bengal Municipal Employees (Recruitment) Rules, 2005;
  10. The West Bengal Municipal Employees (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 2003;
  11. The West Bengal Municipal (Levy of Fee for Supply of Water) Rules, 2002; and
  12. The Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority Rules, 2006.
Apart from above rules the State Government in this Dept. has framed the following model regulations and circulated among the Municipalities for adoption mutatis mutandis:
  1. Regulation for Enlistment of Profession, Trade and callings.
  2. Regulation for imposing Advertisement tax.
  3. Regulation for imposition on toll on heavy trucks.

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