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Senior citizens' threat to boycott polls

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, MARCH 26. Stating that the manifold increase in their house tax under the "draconian" Unit Area System would hit them badly, a group of senior citizens and single women today announced that they would "boycott" the Lok Sabha elections in protest.

Addressing a press conference here, this group, many of whom are office-bearers of resident welfare associations (RWAs), demanded a written commitment from both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party that the new system, which is scheduled to come into force from April 1, would be withdrawn immediately.

They alleged that instead of plugging the loopholes in the outgoing rateable value system, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was trying to impose a new architecture raj on them.

"We want the status quo to be maintained," demanded Janice Darbari, who even contested the Lok Sabha polls in 1999 from South Delhi. A senior citizen residing at Greater Kailash, Rita Mukherjee, alleged that the classification of colonies under the Unit Area Method was like introducing caste system. "The new system is unjust and it should go," she said.

The vice-president of Joint Association of Delhi RWAs, V. N. Gupta, claimed that there were a large number of anomalies in the Unit Area Method. "This is the reason why the details of the system were not made public before the Delhi Assembly elections. The new system is against senior citizens and single women. It is against the joint family system of society," he said.

Another speaker at the conference, a senior retired officer and staying at Greater Kailash, stated that under the new system people like him would have no choice but to sell of the house to a builder to pay the house tax. "This system would only encourage the builders mafia in the Capital," he alleged.

Meanwhile, the Apex Association of DDA Colonies at a meeting here a few days ago passed a resolution urging flat owners not to pay their house tax in the Unit Area Method and "express their resentment and anger in the coming elections".

The Association chairman, R. P. Aggarwal, alleged that the new system was tilted in favour of farm-houses, huge and costly buildings and hotels. "In the new system, no member of the DDA flats would pay the enhanced tax, unless the increase was slashed down to 65 per cent instead of the existing 10 to 15 times," he said.

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