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Coal cess not enough to cut emission: CSE


                                                                                 Business Line, New Delhi, 2nd March, 2015

  The Budget proposals for 2015-16 has no strategy in place to address green concerns, the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) said, adding that the only “green initiative” of the Narendra Modi government is the increase in cess on coal - from Rs. 100 to Rs200/tonne - which is inadequate to cut emission.


“A five-fold increase in the cess would equalise price of domestic coal with international prices and would contribute to annual CO{-2}emission reduction of 214 million tonne, which is 11 per cent of India’s annual emissions. However, in budget 2015, the Finance Minister has opted to take the slow road and has doubled the cess on coal to balance the need to tax pollution and the price of power in his words,” Sunita Narain, CSE director, said in a statement.


Narain said to ensure that people move away from private to public transport, there should be adequate investment in infrastructure “to wean us away from cars”.


“What is bad is that Budget 2015 is doing the reverse. It says it will set aside Rs. 4 per litre of the excise duty on petrol and diesel for a dedicated road cess. This tunnel vision of viewing infrastructure for transport as just “roads” is regressive. Instead, the need is to reinvent mobility so that it moves goods and people, and not vehicles,” she said.


CSE said the Finance Minister said nothing about reducing air pollution except promotion of electric vehicles. “This is not going to make a dent in the pollution levels in the next 10 years at least. He had no proposal on improving our vehicle emissions control technologies or taxing polluting big diesel SUVs, promoting public transport or improving fuel quality. These are the most basic things that we will have to do to clean the air in our cities”, CSE said.


While welcoming the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, 100 per cent rebate for contributions apart from a Swachh Bharat cess at a rate of 2 per cent or less on all or certain services, CSE said the Finance Minister should have announced something on garbage management.


Pointing out that funds of Environment and New and Renewable Energy Ministries had been cut, CSE said there was a mismatch between the intentions expressed in the Budget speech and allocations. The Finance Minister mentioned a massive increase in renewable energy capacity of 1,75,000 MW to be achieved by 2022, but this year allocation for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has actually been reduced by about 7 per cent against last year. The budget for the Ministry of Environment, too, has been cut by 15 per cent from 2014-15 levels, CSE added.

 (This article was published on March 2, 2015)