Heard of a key Central Government department that does not fill up a top post simply because there is no place for him to sit, and that too in a State Capital? Welcome to the Income Tax Department in Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar.
Not only the post of the I-T Commissioners but there are at least other 30 vacancies for various Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers and other staff. For the same reason: No place for them to sit.
The story does not end here. In fact, it begins here. The current office runs from rented premises — and that too not an entire office building. The office, located in 6JCW+RHJ, Additional Commissioner Office Building, Near Udyog Bhavan, Sector 11, Gandhinagar, runs from two floors.
The I-T Department in Gandhinagar is a harried bunch of 50 overburdened officials doing the job of at least 80 people.
“According to the Income Tax protocol, we have to allot a designated cabin space for the high-level officials and also make space for the staff that accompanies them but unfortunately we do not have enough space in the office,” an additional I-T Commissioner from the Gandhinagar department told Vibes of India.
“It’s been over six years that we have applied to get a new office space but there is no luck. The file keeps on flying between one department to another,” he rued.
The Income Tax department had acquired land for the new I-T office in Gandhinagar over six years ago. The plot, which is right adjacent to the Sachivalaya Complex in Sector 11, is still lying unused.
Not only this, the present office earlier used to run from a single rented floor and it took a long struggle to get the second floor.
“Even small Income Tax departments in cities like Rajkot or Vadodara have their own office. Besides, Gujarat’s capital city doesn’t have proper infrastructure either for a department as crucial as Income Tax. The Income Tax department of Gandhinagar plays an important role in collecting tax and generating revenues for Gujarat and the nation and still, we have to fight for basic things. This is a thing to worry about,” adds the officer, who has been in the Income-Tax department for the past 15 years.
He pointed out that despite the implementation of the faceless assessment system, the department doesn’t even have advanced computers to match the technology tech required to carry out faceless assessments seamlessly.
“Due to the dearth of cabins and sitting areas, there are fewer postings and transfers in the Gandhinagar department. Employees are overburdened and have multiple responsibilities–we have been facing this issue for over six years but it seems like our plea is falling on deaf ears,” another senior officer lamented.
The Income Tax department of Gandhinagar comes under the head office, Aayakar Bhawan on Ashram Road in Ahmedabad. Currently, Ravindra Kumar, a 1986 batch IRS officer, is the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (PrCCIT) of Gujarat.
“The only authority that vests in the Income Tax Department are to acquire land, after this the requisite file passes through various departments for various approvals,” this officer said.
He added, “Ironically, the land, labour, or cement prices quoted in the budget change by the time we get the necessary approvals. Similar things have also taken place in the past. There was a long wait to build an Income Tax office in Vejalpur in Ahmedabad but fortunately, the then Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Gujarat zone, IRS official DS Rastogi, now retired, took it upon himself to accomplish the mammoth task,” said a well-placed source in the Income Tax Department in Ahmedabad.
“I have seen Rastogi sir going from one department to the other. He even went to the Union Finance Minister to check what was hindering the process. Aamara haath ma kai nathi hotu (there is nothing in our hands,” adds the IRS officer.