Guest post by Mr. Sajin K. , Treasurer of a 165 Apartment Complex in Bangalore.
Wanted to let this group know of a recent happening in our community, which might be useful for you if you (or friends) have other properties in Karnataka.
Around 2 months back, we got a notice from Pollution Control Board (PCB) that an amount of Rs. 1,20,000 need to be paid for 6 years (Jan 2007 – Dec 2012). The builder and association decided to split this as 40+80, considering the respective ownership periods.
When we went to pay this amount, the PCB officials said an environment report need to be made and it costs Rs. 7,500 per year, totaling Rs. 45,000. This was to be paid to an agency that conducts surveys. We enquired with some nearby apartments of similar size and the estate managers there said this need to be paid. So we went back with DD worth 1.2 lacs and a cheque to the agency for Rs. 45,000. And then, they started demanding Rs. 5,000 per year bribe (i.e. Rs. 30,000) and refused to accept the DD if that was not paid.
At this stage, I started looking for someone credible to see what exactly is this process. Remembering a similar topic being discussed on WaterBLR ADDA, requested ApartmentADDA’s help in getting introduced to the right people and got in touch with Dr. Ananth who is an expert in this field. He said neither is the environment report needed and also that once the DD is paid (at a different office) we can just courier the forms to PCB so no question about bribe either.
So here we were, with Dr. Ananth assuring us that Rs. 75,000 is in effect a bribe and we do not need to pay any of it and on the other side every estate manager we knew advising there is no other way but pay up. In the meanwhile, our Association President and I started getting calls threatening us of “dire consequences” if we do not pay up immediately, including disconnecting our electricity etc. We were in a real dilemma as we knew quite a few at our Complex will be very upset with us, if any of the threatening actually materialized. As if that isn’t enough, some people from the builder’s side too started putting pressure to pay.
Finally with Dr. Ananth’s help we found an honest officer in PCB and closed the matter without paying a paise in bribe. But we were indeed surprised by the amount of ignorance about this and to see that almost every apartment pays up this “audit fee” and bribe.
So, please tell your friends this:
- Environment Audit Reports are not required for residential apartments, since an amendment made way back in 1992. People demanding this are just trying to extract money out of our ignorance.
- All we need to submit along with the annual fee is a form called Form V, which can be downloaded free from the PCB website (attached here as well). Most of the fields in this form doesn’t apply to us and filling this is hardly 10 minutes’ job.
- Finally, the PCB does have powers but the people threatening with “consequences” are just trying to cash in on the fear factor and usually cannot do anything without very valid reasons
- The said form and relevant amendment are attached herewith. This is all one needs while paying the fee.
Hope this will help save some hard-earned money for your friends’ communities also.
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