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Sources in the urban development department said the additional stamp duty was removed at the insistence of the Union government, which was not releasing funds under the JNURM.

“The Union government had told us that it would not release funds under the JNURM without a stamp duty cut,” the official said.

The government, meanwhile, is expecting a report soon from a three-member expert committee it had set up to consider the repeal of urban land ceiling laws.

Asok Bhattacharya, minister for urban development, told the Assembly that the duty reduction would reduce the department's revenue earnings by Rs 30 crore a year. The Kolkata Improvement Trust and the Howrah Improvement Trust, which collect the stamp duty, need Rs 27.5 crore a year to pay the salary and pension of their employees.

“The state finance department has told us that it would bridge the gap,” said Bhattacharya.

Meanwhile, Bhattacharya informed the House that the government is selling the KIT's 7000-plus apartments to their current occupants. “We are spending Rs 4 crore a year to maintain these complexes, but earn only Rs 40 lakh as rent income,” he said. “This is why we want to sell the flats.”

He said the government would sell the one-room flats at Rs 35,000 and two-room flats at Rs 70,000 to 72,000. The government would use the income to make arrangements for drinking water at the apartments.

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