The government has asked all municipal corporations, municipal councils and other civic bodies to pass resolutions for using electricity bills to collect the cow-protection cess.
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has been asked to levy 2 paise on each unit of electricity consumed, as the government expects to generate crores of rupees for the welfare of bovines in the state.
Local bodies minister Anil Joshi told HT the government was also adopting other methods to collect the cow-protection cess, such as imposing Rs 10 on oil tankers coming to the Bathinda refinery for transposing petrol and diesel.
Director of the local bodies department, Priyank Bharti, told HT that about 60% of all 165 local civic bodies in the state had passed the resolution.
The Bathinda municipal corporation, which was the first to adopt the resolution last year, still remains the only one to implement it and collects an average rs 20 lakh per month.
“Those who have not done are being again told to implement it,” Bharti said.
Bharti said the cow-protection cess will be used to build gaushalas and carry out other activities for rehabilitation of cows, adding civic bodies had been asked to draw out a plan.
The state has nearly 500 cow shelters, but thousands of bovines still roam around on roads. The state decided to imposed the cow cess under Section 7 of the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, last year.
A portion of the cess would also contribute in the functioning of the cow protection board.
The PSPCL, which has also been told to collect water and sewage charges from the residents of urban areas, already charges a 13% electricity duty on the sale of power to consumers besides 11 paise per unit as octroi.
Padamjit Singh, a power sector expert, however, slammed the government’s action, asking why PSPCL was being made to function as a “collection agent” for different departments.
“Just because a household can’t run without electricity, we can’t fleece people and force them to pay water charges, cow cess and octroi,” he said. “In this scenario, I fear more such taxes will follow and they will also be attached to power bills.”