Time to pay up

THE Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) together with the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) has proposed an increase in the cess on water consumed by industries. The water-consuming industries will have to shell out almost three times the amount which they were paying earlier, if the decision is ratified by Parliament.

The intention to raise water cess was announced at the annual meet of the CPCB and SPCBS held in the third week of July. D B Boralkar, assistant secretary, CPCB, says: "The present rates are very low as they were decided way back in 1977. A new formula has been worked out and the state boards have agreed to it. However the actual rates are yet to be ascertained."

The share of the state government in the revenue will be increased from the earlier 75 per cent to 80 per cent if the proposed formula is applied. "The money generated will be used for pollution control, development of infra-structure and related activities," says Boralkar.

Rashid Hasan, a senior official at the ministry of environment and forests who deals with the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act,1977, says: "Because of a tremendous resource crunch, the SPCBs could not use the water cess for pollution control measures and development of infrastructure. All the finance was going for salaries and other such things."

Union minister of environment and forests, Suresh Prabhu, has also assured the boards that states will now receive a higher share of the water cess and the SPCBs that performed well would receive a higher quantum of money from the water cess fund.

A number of new industries have been added to the schedule of water consuming industries, while a few have been removed. Agro industries which were not in the schedule earlier will now have to pay for the water they consume.

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