NGT directs collection of ‘green tax’

In a bid to curb health hazards originating from bursting of firecrackers this Diwali, the Pune Bench of the National Green Tribunal has directed civic bodies to levy Rs. 3,000 as ‘green tax’ from sellers. The corpus collected from the tax will be used to clean solid waste generated from firecrackers at public places. Part of the money is to be used exclusively for environmental activities such as planting trees and constructing toilets for women. The tribunal ordered strict action against defaulters, recommending that agencies which did not pay the tax should be blacklisted and their licences cancelled. Earlier, the Bench directed the Maharashtra government to consider framing a policy to restrict the sound emitted by firecrackers to 10-15 decibels. The Bench of Justices V.R. Kingaonkar and Ajay Deshpande was hearing a petition filed by Ravindra Bhusari from Nagpur which sought a ban on bursting of firecrackers. The petition contended that the industry employed child labour which led to several injuries and deaths among minors. The tribunal suggested that apart from restricting noise levels, bursting of crackers at public places should be restricted to certain hours. The NGT directive, however, has upset firecracker vendors who argue that it is unfair to impose taxes on them.