Agra: Archaeological Survey of India has been asked to pay a water tax of nearly Rs 2 crore, and a property tax of about Rs 1.5 lakh for the Taj Mahal, along with a Rs 5-crore service tax for the Agra Fort, in an apparent first-of-its-kind action by local authorities.
The ASI in Agra said the monuments are exempted from such taxes, but Municipal Commissioner Nikhil Tikaram Funde said notices have been issued to several buildings and those eligible will be given the relief.
The Agra Municipal Corporation’s notices ask the ASI to pay a water tax of Rs 1.94 crore and a property of Rs 1.47 lakh for the Taj Mahal, and Rs 1.40 lakh as property tax for another monument, the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah.
The notices were issued for the financial years 2021-22 and 2022-23, and the ASI has been asked to pay up within the next 15 days.
In addition, the Agra Cantonment Board has sent out a notice to the ASI to recover a service tax of Rs 5 crore for the Agra Fort, an official said.
Agra Circle ASI officials protested the action by the municipality. The Taj Mahal, tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah and the Agra Fort are national monuments that are exempted from such taxes, said ASI’s Agra Circle Superintending Archaeologist Rajkumar Patel.
He said the ASI takes care of about 4,000 monuments in the country and has not made any such payment before. ‘It is the first time in my knowledge, and as per records, that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has received notices of Water Tax from the Jal Kal Vibhag part of Agra Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Property Tax from the Agra Municipal Corporation for the national monuments Taj Mahal and the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah.’
‘We received a water tax notice of Rs 1.94 crore for the premises of Taj Mahal and nearby areas that are not mentioned clearly, but it is mainly for the Taj Mahal premises. Property tax of Rs 1.47 lakhs for the East Gate of Taj Mahal and Rs 1.40 lakh for the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah for property tax have been issued.
In addition, we have also got a notice from the Agra Cantonment Board regarding a service tax of about Rs 5 crore for the Agra Fort. It is also a World Heritage Site and it is exempted from taxes. We have replied to them and mentioned that in the GST regime it is clearly notified that no service tax will be applicable on monuments.’
Agra Municipal Commissioner Funde said, ‘The notice was issued to the ASI for the Taj Mahal and the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah after the first time assessment process of buildings through the Geographic Information Survey (GIS).’ The Agra Municipal Corporation (AMC) issues notices to every building whether it is a national, government, private or religious place, he said. ‘If after that these buildings are eligible for tax exemption, we exempt them from tax,’ he said. ‘The same procedure will be followed with the Taj Mahal and the tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah.’