Shopkeepers in the complex of City Chowk Masjid and Ghaas Mandi have run into trouble after the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Maharashtra State Board of Wakfs (MSBW) engaged into an ownership dispute.
Meanwhile, the AMC today sealed as many as 50 shops to recover property tax to the tune of Rs 9 lakh, while the shopkeepers claimed of regularly paying the rent to the board.
The tax recovery drive was implemented in the City Chowk area today. Administrative officer Priyanka Kesarkar and ward-A officer Ankush Laad reached the area around 11 am and started the tax recovery process.
The shopkeepers brought to her notice that their properties belong to the Wakf Board and they regularly pay rent. However, she did not pay any heed to them and ordered her team to seal the shops.
Accordingly, the team sealed the complex beneath City Chowk Masjid and small kiosks around a durgah and Ghaas Mandi.
A delegation of around 30 shopkeepers, led by corporator Mir Hidayat Ali, met municipal commissioner H S Kamble in the evening and narrated the grievances. The civic chief told the shopkeepers to pay at least half tax dues.
The shopkeepers retorted that they would have paid their taxes, had the AMC issued notices regularly. They accused the AMC of taking action without serving any notice or tax demand.
Wakf Board's reaction
The shopkeepers also reportedly met the officials of the Wakf Board, this afternoon. Following this, the Wakf Board issued a letter to the AMC terming the latter's action against shopkeepers unjust.
The Board also pointed out that the AMC had constructed its offices at Town Hall on wakf land, but has failed to pay rent since 1971. "If the AMC fails to pay rent in seven days, we will also seal the two buildings," wakf officials said.
Chief executive officer N D Pathan confirmed about the letter and urged the shopkeepers to renew their lease agreement.