Swachh Cess Likely on Fuel Telecom

Centre may issue Swachh bonds and impose cess on petrol, diesel, telecom services and waste produced by industries to fund Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

The government may issue Swachh Bharat bonds and impose a cess on automobile fuels, telecom services and mineral waste to fund Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet national cleanliness project.

A group of chief ministers headed by Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu submitted a report to Modi on Wednesday outlining ways to mobilise funds for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan initiative.

“Swachh Bharat bonds may be issued and a Swachh Bharat cess may be levied by the central government on petrol, diesel, telecom services and also on accumulated waste produced by plants generating mineral waste like coal, aluminum and iron ore,“ the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement, citing the report.

“Given the scale and importance of the programme, it has been suggested that the sharing pattern of funds for this pro gramme between the Centre and states may be in the ratio of 75:25, while for hilly states it may be kept at 90:10,“ it said.

The panel recommended reducing the subsidy on chemical fertilisers and in creasing financial support for compost to encourage its use.

“In order to improve the via bility of waste management activities, the report propos es provision of tax exemp tions by the Centre and the state governments to the pri vate sector, besides enhanc ing the assistance for conn struction of individual household toilets in both ur ban and rural areas to Rs.15,000, it said.

The group of chief minis The group of chief ministers was constituted on March 24, following a decision taken at the first meeting of the governing council of the NITI Aayog on February 8. It consists of the chief minis ters of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and is chaired by Naidu.

To bring about behavioural changes, the group recommended an increase in funding for rolling out a professionally driven communication strategy. “Including sanitation and cleanliness in school curriculum and formation of a team of students to be called as `Swachhta Senani' in schools and colleges have been proposed to spread awareness about sanitation and cleanliness,“ it said.

The group said a dedicated mission for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan should be set up at both the national and state levels to guide, support and monitor the programme.

The proposals call for rating gram panchayats, municipalities, blocks, districts and states each year to promote competition, besides integrating rag pickers into the waste management system so that their livelihood is not adversely affected.

The Economic Times, New Delhi, 15th Oct. 2015

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