‘K-Smart’ app yet to be smart; property tax payment in limbo

Photo courtesy: Website/Govt of Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: People who own houses and other buildings in several of the 87 municipalities and six city corporations in Kerala are unable to pay property tax as the ambitious ‘K-Smart’ app project of the Local Self-Government Department has developed snags.

Incidentally, municipalities and corporations had stopped collecting property tax in cash at their offices on December 31 last year in view of the launch of the app on New Year’s Day.

The impasse has occurred following a delay in digitalizing data regarding 38 lakh buildings in all the municipalities and corporations in the state. Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram corporations are the local bodies where the process is lagging the most.

Even the employees at the local bodies have no idea about the number of files that remain to be digitalized. Many employees complain that sufficient time was not given to digitalize the files. They also allege that neither the necessary training was given to them to carry out the process nor a trial run was conducted before the project was implemented.

At the same time, top officials in the Local Self-Government Department blamed the lower-level employees for the delay, pointing out that they were not cooperating with the project.

With a majority of building owners normally paying the tax at the end of the financial year, the present situation is likely to hit the revenue collections of local bodies.

Meanwhile, Information Kerala Mission, which developed the K-Smart app, claims that the digitalization of data on buildings is pending only in a few municipalities.

While announcing the K-Smart app, the government said that data regarding birth and death certificates would also be digitalized. However, there has been little progress in this regard and people are unable to obtain old birth and death certificates or carry out corrections on these documents.

There are problems with building permits and regularisation applications too.

In many municipalities, data regarding buildings is maintained in ward-level assessment registers as well as handbooks carried by bill collectors. All these details have to be verified and uploaded to enable smooth payment of property tax.

However, the data in some municipalities where online payment was enabled before the K-Smart app was announced is already digitalized.

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