In the near future, doing your bit for the environment may not be as cheap as planting a tree.
The state’s environment department is mulling a tax on all new construction, infrastructure and industrial projects to help combat global warming. The planned environmental cess of 1 per cent of the total cost of a project will help set up a dedicated fund for the department’s conservation plans. Officials said the proposal will pinch your pocket but only nominally.
“The proposal is still at a preliminary stage. We are considering a tax that can be used to create a dedicated fund to conserve polluted water bodies, set up sewage treatment plants and help maintain green spaces,’’ said environment minister Suresh Shetty.
He said the other option being considered is a 2-per cent cess on vehicles entering Mumbai city limits. The department aims to apportion 50 per cent of the proposed fund for rural areas, to ensure that sewage is not dumped into water bodies.
The other 50 per cent will help create and maintain green spaces in cities and towns.
“Small local bodies have no funds to treat sewage and it is dumped into our three river basins. We want to use the funds to conserve and clean these basins. In urban areas, open spaces like mangrove parks will be our priority,” said an environment official on condition of anonymity.
The proposal will be sent for approval to the Urban Development Department (Finance) and the Chief Minister.
The State Forest Policy, which got in-principal approval in 2008, also envisions a 2 per cent green cess to increase Maharashtra’s forest cover from its current 20.13 per cent to 30 per cent. The 2 per cent cess was to be levied on municipal corporations that get their water from forest reservoirs. It is yet to be implemented.