Shimla MC to impose Green Tax on outside vehicles from Sept 19

SHIMLA- From September 19, 2016, vehicles registered outside Himachal Pradesh will have to pay Green Tax on entering into area under Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) radius.

After failed attempt in 2012 to implement Green Tax policy on entry of outside vehicles, SMC has again come out with plans for extraction of Green Tax, mainly from tourist vehicles. Initially, the program will be run for a period of three months for observations, based on which further policy will be formulated. Earlier, SMC was rebuked by the Honorable High Court of Himachal Pradesh during a decision on objection filed by HP Public Works Department. HPPWD had objected that SMC did not seek its permission before erecting barriers and posts on National and State Highways, which had also led to hours-long traffic congestion. SMC was asked by the court to rectify and frame the structure and process of the Green Tax Policy again. .

Rates for Various Vehicles

SMC has finalized Rs. 50 for two wheelers, 200 for small cars, and 300 for SUVs, and 500 for trucks.
Who is exempted?

All vehicles carrying daily commodities like milk, bread, eggs etc. are exempted to avoid increase in rates of these commodities, which doesn’t agree with public. Trucks carrying apple crop have also been spared. Vehicles belonging to Union and State Governments and defense are also exempted. Also, local residents who own a vehicles registered in other states will have to submit an application to get exemption from paying tax.

How You Can Pay Green Tax? 

Unlike last time, no barriers will be erected on entry points to extract payment of tax. According to SMC, tax can be paid through its mobile app, which is in process of synchronization with banks, or online from computers. Those who are not tech-savvy can pay the tax at counter in Parwanoo to be set up by a private contractor or at the Sugam Centre in Shimla.

Penalty for Violators

A receipt will be generated  on payment that will be valid upto seven days. Any vehicle caught travelling without paying green tax will be imposed a penalty of Rs. 5000. Vehicles belonging to Union or those owned by locals but registered outside Himachal must submit their residence proof or Aadhaar card copy, registration number and other details with SMC. If a person fails to submit these details and he is somehow questioned, he would be released if he shows his residence proof to the authorities.

Monitoring to Check Tax Evasion

Dedicated field staff, claims SMC, will conduct regular surprise and random checking at MC Parking lots, Hotels, and popular tourist places to catch tax evaders. Also, a ward councilor can verify payment of any outside vehicle through SMC’s mobile app that will be connected to entire database.

SMC’s Expected Earning

SMC has estimated generation of revenue worth 12-15 crores per year by extracting green tax, which, it claims, will be spent on developmental activities or on environmental protection measures,afforestation, beautification, parking spaces, toilets, accelerators and other basic facilities in areas under its jurisdiction.

Shimla has around 80,000 vehicles registered locally, while it has parking space for only around 1,000 vehicles. During peak tourist season, around 5,000 tourist vehicles enter the town daily. Shimla hosts tourists twice the amount of its original population each year. MC feels that the green tax would not only fill its coffers, but also act as deterrent against overcrowding of tourist vehicles in the city. They said it would help decongest the areas which otherwise remains choked with tourist vehicles.

Also Read: Shimla – The capital yearns for even basic public facilities

However, the claims of spending collected revenue in public facilities and environmental protection lack conviction considering the ignorance SMC has shown toward waste disposal, littering, sewage leakage that results in drinking water contamination, garbage burning etc. Also, SMC’s beautification hardly passes beyond the Shimla Mall and Ridge. Shimla city’s most crowded bus stoppages have no rain-shelter, public toilets, and even a single dustbin. Over revenue generation, environment is hardly any concern for administration. Moreover, for now SMC is conducting an experiment and fate of Green Tax policy isn’t fixed yet.

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