Cess on Vehicles for Upkeep of Protected Areas Proposed
BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Government has been urged to impose a cess on vehicles plying on roads inside the protected areas (PAs) of the State. The levy could be termed ‘Biodiversity Cess’ and collected by the Forest Department at entry points to the PAs.
The revenue accruing from the levy may be utilised for maintenance, including clean-up of littering, extinguishing forest fire on road sides and for community level wildlife conservation programmes for habitations located inside such protected areas, Wild Orissa has stated.
In a representation to the State Government, the Wild Orissa claimed that wildlife space is increasingly occupied by development infrastructure in the country. Though roads are an essential part of the development dynamics, they have detrimental ecological effects. Apart from fragmenting the already fragmented natural habitats of wildlife, roads break forest contiguity, migratory paths, tree cover and canopy and gravely impact wildlife, chief spokesman Kulamani Deo said.
Soil erosion and landslides are also caused by the roads though they lead to accelerated development, increase tourist and hunting pressure, pollution and other disturbances.
Similarly, great vigilance and checks are needed to thwart illegal extraction of timber and forest produce and poaching which are facilitated by road construction in PAs, Deo said. It is very difficult to provide requisite surveillance and it is well established that PAs have suffered loss of vegetative cover and poaching after roads came up in Odisha.
There is an imperative need for levy of user fees on roads and waterways by vehicles or vessels plying inside protected areas in the State, he added.