Expert panel suggests taxation to deal with vehicular emissions, new body to fast-track environmental clearances
NEW DELHI: In its recent report, TSR Subramanian Committee—formed by the ministry of environment, forests and climate change to review key environmental laws — has recommended a "revised system of taxation" to inhibit an increase in the number of vehicles, "entry fee" for certain parts of the city, upgrading the public transport system and other policies to keep vehicular emissions in check.
The committee, consisting of former environment secretary Viswanath Anand, retired Delhi high court judge A K Srivastav and former additional solicitor general K N Bhat, is headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian. The committee is being perceived with apprehension by many civil society organizations who think it may be making environmental regulations lenient. It is also being criticized for being "undemocratic" as for linear projects like transportation lines, gas pipelines, irrigation canals, transmission lines it suggests bypassing gramsabha's consent and clearance for those should be accorded priority it states. The report seems to have some pollution abating measures for cities but it is keen on getting projects in rural areas fast tracked.
The report recommends formation of National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and state environmental management authorities (SEMA) with expertise to clear projects. "Existing Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and corresponding state agencies would be subsumed in NEMA and SEMA respectively," the report suggests. The report also suggests constitution of Environment Reconstruction Fund as a public fund, which will be managed by NEMA and used for developing environmental infrastructure. ERF will receive funds from a variety of sources, including from water cess, air pollution cess, proposed vehicle pollution surcharge, proposed surcharge on units discharging effluents; environmental reconstruction cost from project proponents; fees for various services rendered by agencies including process fees etc.; as well as other levies, also including penalties and punitive fines on polluters and offenders.
The committee takes a very strict view on vehicular emissions and says that depending on just superior fuel emission norms may not help. "On discussion with National Environment Engineering Research Institute and other technical agencies, the committee understood that currently 65% to 70% of the air pollution in cities is attributable to motor vehicles...," the report states. It has taken a guarded view on another controversial subject—genetically modified crops. The report cautioned the government on "mindless use of science and technology illustrated by referring to the potential for medium or long-term adverse affects through unprepared introduction of genetically modified (GM) food crops." The committee suggests that while other ministries may push for the introduction of GM crops, the ministry must play the "devil's advocate" and advise caution. It notes that Europe hasn't permitted field trials and in India small farmers and genetic biodiversity can be severely affected by GM crops. Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Expert-panel-suggests-taxation-to-deal-with-vehicular-emissions-new-body-to-fast-track-environmental-clearances/articleshow/45322617.cms?