BHUBANESWAR: The State Government on Tuesday urged the Centre to share at least 60 per cent of clean environment cess with coal bearing States.
Drawing the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the proposal to increase the Clean Environment Cess from `200 per MT to `400, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said this would result in collection of about `6,400 crore from Odisha without any commensurate benefit to the host State.
Since the National Clean Energy Fund generated through this cess is earmarked for renewable energy in the country, States having an edge to generate renewable energy due to locational advantages will gain at the cost of coal bearing States like Odisha which have to bear the brunt of negative externalities including loss of human habitat, forest cover, industrial disasters and damage to environment.
"There is an urgent need to correct the situation by renaming this Cess as 'Environment and Rehabilitation Cess' and sharing at least 60 per cent of the proceeds with the coal bearing States to deal with negative externalities," Naveen said. This will ensure sharing of cost and benefit by States in an equitable manner. Besides, these issues are of critical importance for the socio-economic development of the State, he said and urged the Prime Minister to resolve these early in the true spirit of cooperative federalism.
Stating that the Centre is giving preferential treatment to Central Government Undertakings in raising compensatory afforestation on degraded forest land, Naveen said the same dispensation is not made available to the projects of State Government and its PSUs. Highlighting that over 37 per cent of geographical area in Odisha is recorded as forest area which makes it difficult to identify non-forest land of large chunks for raising compensatory afforestation, Naveen urged the Prime Minister to extend this special dispensation to the projects of State Government.
The Chief Minister further informed that environmental clearances of several mining projects are pending with the Centre on account of delay in submission of final report by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).
This is hampering the production of minerals like iron and manganese ore and supply of raw materials to mineral-based industries in the State with adverse impact on industrial growth, he added.
In addition, it has strained the State exchequer and may even lead to social unrest in tribal pockets due to lack of employment and livelihood opportunities. The Chief Minister urged Modi to expedite submission of the final report by NEERI and till such time, all the pending cases should be granted conditional environmental clearance subject to the outcome of the study.
The Prime Minister assured to examine and resolve these issues at the earliest in consultation with the State.