In Court

Published: Monday 31 May 2004

levy upheld: Germany's highest court has rejected a challenge against the government's tax on fossil fuels and electricity. The tax added US $0.04 to the price of a litre of petrol per year. The appeal was brought by a group of transport firms. The Constitutional Court, however, clearly stated in its ruling that the 'ecology tax' had actually helped in protecting jobs, and the proceeds from it served as pension breaks for companies.

Welcoming the court's decision, Germany's environment minister, Juergen Trittin, reportedly said that carbon dioxide emissions from cars had been decreasing in Germany since 2000 at a rate of 1-1.5 per cent annually. This, he felt, was incontrovertible proof of the positive effect of the levy. He also mentioned that 250,000 jobs had been saved due to pension breaks. But transport industry officials maintained that extra taxes imposed in 1999 were forcing jobs out of the country, resulting in losses running into billions of dollars.

burning issue: The Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Delhi government, demanding an explanation as to why incinerators are being used to dispose of medical waste in the capital, despite studies showing that the devices do not meet pollution norms. A recent report by Delhi-based non-governmental organisation Toxics Link revealed that only government organisations were using such incinerators.

The 30 government incinerators in the city do not have pollution control equipments and release huge amounts of persistent organic pollutants like dioxins and furans. The problem seems to be that once the hospitals invest in the incinerator, they use it just to justify the expenditure. This in spite of their being aware that it would turn out to be a dearer proposition in the long run, says Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Link. Though the Central Pollution Control Board has issued guidelines discouraging on-site incinerators, state pollution control boards continue to urge hospitals to use the same.

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