Mumbai , June 3
THE Forest Ministry of Maharashtra is considering the introduction of a tax on vehicles and industrial units, based on their carbon emissions.
The money collected, thus, would be used for implementing afforestation projects in the State. Towards this, relevant changes could be made in Motor Vehicles Act and Environment Acts applicable to industries. The suggestion is still at a preliminary stage but it will be taken up before the State Cabinet, said Mr Babanrao Pachpute, Forest Minister, Maharashtra, while speaking to newspersons on Friday.
"In countries like Australia, a vehicle owner, after plying his vehicle for 25,000 km, has to plant five trees or pay a tax equivalent to the money needed for the upkeep of five trees. I think, this idea needs to be given more thought," Mr Pachpute said.
The idea to introduce tax on carbon emission is based on the guidelines of the Kyoto protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1997. The State also wants to introduce the system of trading in carbon futures under the same protocol.
It is well known that carbon emission causes environmental damage and climatic changes. Trees with large leaves are the best natural absorbers of carbon emission and Kyoto protocol aims to cash in on this process.
The Minister also said that the process of carbon credits is being introduced in Maharashtra soon, which will enhance forest cover in the State significantly. The process of claiming carbon credits has already started in Orissa and Karnataka.
"For every tonne of environmental carbon processed the tree owner could claim up to $5 of carbon credit. This is a good way to make money and it will catch up soon," Mr Pachpute said.
Some overseas companies have offered to undertake afforestation programmes in the State, for which they will claim carbon credits. Maharashtra aims to increase its present forest cover of 21 per cent to 33 per cent by 2012. Maharashtra Tree Carbon Ltd, a public undertaking, will be established for implementing the system. Experts in this trade have been appointed for advising the State Government.