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Meerut 9th in top 10 tax-paying cities

NEW DELHI: This is one top 10 mention that does Meerut proud. After years of being known for its lawlessness and underdevelopment, this dusty western UP town now occupies ninth place among the top ten income tax paying cities of the country.

According to statistics compiled by the Income Tax department, Meerut contributed a handsome Rs 10,089 crore to the national kitty in 2007-08, leaving fancier cities like Jaipur, Bhopal, Kochi and Bhubaneshwar in its wake. It did even better than the state capital, Lucknow.

Mumbai and Delhi continue to occupy the top two slots with revenues of Rs 114,161 crore and Rs 46,865 crore respectively.

Quite unlike its wild west image, a definite improvement in Meerut's economic health is visible as this is the third year in a row that the town has figured on the top ten list. In fact, two years ago, it had made it to the fifth slot, just behind the traditional big hitters Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.

These four continue to lead the 2007-08 list, followed by Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh. Meerut's success owes itself to the prosperous industrial belt with a large number of mid-sized iron and steel foundries as well as chemical and manufacturing units.

Besides, ONGC's presence there ensures a steady flow of revenue. However, while its industries did very well before signs of slowdown could be sighted on the horizon, its tax collections went down in the last two years. Raids by the revenue intelligence department in recent years had unearthed tax evasion worth hundreds of crores.

In 2005-06, Meerut occupied the fifth slot and contributed Rs 10,306 crore to the direct tax collection. It slipped to number six in 2006-07 when the revenue collection at Rs 11,203 crore was 18% lower than the target of Rs 13,627 crore. There was no improvement last year with collection dipping further to Rs 10,089 crore, about 28% lower than the target.

The Meerut tax zone encompasses Noida and Ghaziabad but the new-age IT and BPO sector that has made these two cities their base enjoy tax breaks and do not contribute to the collections.

The new entrant in the list of top ten cities is Chandigarh, having netted Rs 9,724 crore, 18% more than its target, edging out Bhopal that occupied the number ten slot for the last two years.

The cities which have done remarkably well in terms of positioning themselves are Hyderabad and Pune. While Hyderabad has risen from number seven to the fifth position this year, Pune is placed at number six, better than its number nine slot last year.

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