Himachal CM Moots Environmental Cess

[lang_en]Shimla: Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal mooted a voluntary cess on private vehicles that would be pooled to create an environmental fund and used for promoting on environment conservation activities.

Speaking at a workshop on Climate Change: Perspective & Opportunities in Context of Himachal Pradesh, chief minister said that the state has been making out its case before the union government and international bodies for being compensated for the environmental services that the hill state is rendering to Himalayan ecology.

The just demand notwithstanding, it would be prudent to start a voluntary collection, whereby vehicle owners pay a monthly cess in compensation for the carbon imprint that the vehicles cause, said Dhumal.

We are considered to be a debt trap state, he said adding, but we hold and conserve forest wealth which environmental economists put a value at over Rs 150,000 crores. An accumulated state debt of Rs 23,000 crore can easily be paid out of this value but we have taken great care to conserve our green wealth.

We seek adequate compensation from the central government for being unpaid custodians of environment and forests. This concept is being practiced in many parts of the world as a market based instrument popularly known as ‘payment for environmental services’ said Dhumal

Terming climate changes as the biggest challenge facing the world he said that as poorest of the poor would be most affected by the changes in climate begin observed, responsibilities of governments to protect these sections increases.

Environment and forest minister JP Nadda in his presidential address said that after decades of green felling ban on trees the state has been able to check depleting forest cover, which was now increasing.

He informed that for earning carbon credits, a world bank funded project would be implemented to raise a broad leave tree cover on 12,000 hectares which would benefit the people.

Guest speaker NH Ravindranath, chairman, centre for sustainable technology from the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore pointed out that reducing the carbon imprint from cement units was a challenge for attaining carbon neutral status.

He said that successfully planting trees over one million hectares of barren land would enable Himachal to become the first place in the world to attain a carbon neutral status.[/lang_en]

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