Maharashtra’s environment department is
preparing a proposal to levy tax on environment polluters. The proposal, say
sources, is almost ready and will soon be tabled before the state cabinet.
As per the proposal, any activity that
affects the environment, like stone-crushing, mining, vehicular pollution,
industries and big infrastructural projects, will be liable to pay environment
The cess levied will be in proportion to
the capital investment and extent of production of an industry or an infrastructural
project. The percentage of computing the cess is yet to be decided.
The revenue generated through this cess will
be utilized for environment conservation – cleaning of lakes, rivers, setting
up information centres, collection of data on air and water pollution, etc.
“The state environment department has
practically no funds. There are a large number of industries that are gaining
at the loss of natural resources. They may not contribute to pollution, but
after 10 years, the issue of pollution will be at its peak and we need funds
for that. A lot of awareness is needed among people, not just at the urban
level but also at the district level. The central government provides grants to
secure our water bodies. But this fund will help conserve our lakes and rivers as well.
We just don’t want to put the onus of conserving the environment on the
Maharashtra Pollution Control Board,” said state environment minister
“The cess already exists as ‘green cess’
for mining activities and transport but it’s not utilized for environment
purpose. One reason was that we could not clearly define environment
conservation. We will now set down clear guidelines for utilizing the cess,
which will be a consolidated fund,” said Valsa Nair Singh, secretary,
state environment department.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has already
given his consent stating that the money realized from environment cess will
not go to the environment department but be diverted to a consolidated fund
that will be pumped back for environment conservation.