An audit of the accounts and records of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) by the Principal Accountant General has revealed lapses on the part of the board in collecting the mandatory consent fee from various institutions as per the environmental laws.
Consent fee, which remains a major revenue source for the board, is collected to meet part of the expenditure involved in its functions, including processing and issue of consent to establish / operate certificates, conducting inspections, and to analyse effluent and water samples. It is fixed based on the capital investment for the project.
The audit carried out by the Office of the Principal Accountant General (Audit-II) in Thrissur showed that the non-levy of the mandatory consent fee from ports and fishing harbours amounted to 10.86 crore. The inspection covered the period from August 1, 2016 to February 28, 2022.
The audit estimated that around ₹3.29 crore was pending in terms of consent fee from railway stations / goods yards. While the consent fee to be collected from railway stations was about ₹2.96 crore, the amount pending under the section of goods sheds / rake sidings is nearly ₹1 crore.
The non-collection of consent fee from operators of poultry stalls will work out to around ₹9.24 crore based on the inference that Kerala has over 16,000 poultry stalls (included under the orange category of classification). The amount of ₹9.24 crore was arrived at based on the calculation of a fee of ₹550 per unit yearly for a period of 10.5 years.
The non-collection of consent fee from quarry operators was estimated at ₹6.63 crore. The inspection also revealed that no consent fee was collected from scrap merchants during the period, and the shortfall amounted to around ₹5.25 crore based on the inference that the State has more than 10,000 scrap collection centres.
PCB Chairman A.B. Pradeep Kumar said the reply to queries raised in the audit would be furnished before the auditors.