Making polluters pay

Proposal to tax polluting vehicles in Andhra Pradesh even as petroleum ministry refuses it natural gas

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

to check increasing pollution levels in the state, the Andhra Pradesh (ap) government is considering a proposal to tax polluting vehicles. The proposal targets all vehicles, including private cars and two-wheelers, in the twin cities of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and other areas with high vehicle density such as Nizamabad and Vishakhapatnam.

The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (appcb) is ready with its 15-point scheme to execute the plan, which will be tabled in a cabinet meeting soon. Imposing heavy taxes on visibly polluting vehicles and phasing out those that are more than 15 years old are the main highlights of the scheme.

"To implement the plan, we propose to create a task force that will include the traffic police, road transport authority and pollution control board officials. They will note down the registration numbers of the polluting vehicles and will take further action," explains K V Ramani, chief environment scientist with the appcb. The proposal also includes phasing out of old two-stroke vehicles by April 2003 and discontinuance of registration of vehicles that do not conform to Euro ii or Bharat ii norms. Formulating a system where no fuel would be given without the valid certification of the vehicle from the pollution control board is another feature in the plan.

To begin with, the appcb on instructions from state chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has identified around 300 old polluting government vehicles, which will soon be phased out. At present, ap has no laws to combat the rising vehicular pollution. If implemented, this proposal will be a landmark in the use of fiscal measures to control vehicular pollution in the country. "Singapore and other countries have succeeded in restricting the number of polluting private vehicles by imposing heavy taxes. I strongly feel that the polluter should pay," said the chief minister recently at a function to mark Earth Day.

But earlier efforts to provide a clean public transport system in the state did not make headway because the Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas turned down the ap government's proposal for switching over to alternative fuel modes such as cng (compressed natural gas), lpg (liquefied petroleum gas) and low-sulphur diesel. The petroleum ministry cited the limited availability of cng in the country as the reason for declining the proposal. The state government is, therefore, trying to delve into other avenues to curb pollution. Prominent among them is the plan to strengthen the local rail system. According to Naidu, the first phase of Rs 1,135-crore multi-rail system would be ready by November 2002.

Meanwhile, H S Brahma, principal secretary, environment, government of ap, says that there are plans to put forth yet another proposal to the Union government for clean fuel modes in the public transport system. Try, try again.

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