Himachal Pradesh starts voluntary tax to combat climate change

October 20th, 2008 - 2:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Oct 20 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh will impose a voluntary ‘green tax’ on vehicle users in an initiative that its chief minister says is India’s first to generate a fund for combating climatic changes.The tax became a reality with cabinet ministers recently deciding to contribute Rs.100 per month towards creating the corpus.

“The environment fund will be utilised for protecting nature from certain death and making the state a carbon-neutral state,” Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told IANS.

“With climatic changes around the globe posing a serious threat, it’s our duty to contribute a certain amount on a regular basis towards the environmental fund as cost of damage caused to the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions,” he added.

The hill state has already taken various initiatives towards ecology conservation. As part of its first micro-level drive, residents across the state planted 1.5 million saplings on a single day, Aug 3, 2008.

Saplings of 57 indigenous species like neem, banyan, jamun and peepul were planted on that particular day during the drive, called the Jan Jan Sanjivani programme.

From next year, the government plans to plant 4.5-5 million medicinal and wild fruit plants through the year.

The state has 66 percent of its geographical area under forest cover.

“Our aim in imposing a green tax is not only to sensitise people about the importance of flora and fauna but also to take measures to protect these from extinction,” Forest Minister J.P. Nadda said.

“Unlike the environment tax imposed under law in across the country, our green tax will be totally voluntary,” Nadda said.

The fund to be raised through tax will be managed by the state environment department.

The lush green valleys and snow-capped mountains of Himachal Pradesh are home to 36 percent of the country’s species of birds. Of the 1,228 species that have been reported in India, 447 have been recorded in this state alone.

Similarly, 77 species of mammals have been recorded by the Himachal State Council for Science, Technology and Environment in its biodiversity report.

From the spectacular snow leopard to the common Himalayan tahr - a type of wild goat -the storehouse of biodiversity supports 3,120 species of flowering plants, including 187 species of medicinal plants.

The state is also one of those most vulnerable to climate change as Himalayan glaciers retreat due to global warming.

“So, it’s time to save the environment for our future generations,” Nadda added.

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