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Bridging The Gap
Delhi breathes toxic air. But Rs 787 cr green cess for 2017 lies unused by AAP government.
  Wednesday 15 November, 2017
Delhi breathes toxic air. But Rs 787 cr green cess for 2017 lies unused by AAP government.

A RTI query has revealed that the Delhi government is sitting on Rs 787 crores that it collected as environmental cess in 2017.

The Arvind Kejriwal government - in the RTI reply to Sanjeev Jain, a Right To Information activist - said it received Rs 50 crore in 2015, Rs 387 crore in 2016 and Rs 787 crore as environment cess from January 1 to September 30 in 2017.

It added that it has spent Rs 93 lakh of the environment cess in 2016, but there was "no mention of any expenditure" in 2017.

The cess on diesel was announced by the Sheila Dikshit government in December 2007 as part of its efforts to control air pollution due to vehicular emissions.

The AAP government came under attack from the Opposition parties following this RTI response.

The Congress said the city government was not utilising funds for strengthening the public transport system, and instead was involved in "blame game".

"It is complete negligence on the part of (Chief Minister) Kejriwal`s government. It has not been able to utilise Rs 787 crore which is lying idle," Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken told IANS.

"The public transport system in Delhi is in shambles," he added.

The Congress leader further said that the AAP government could have bought new buses with the money and also augmented total parking capacity of the bus depots.

Meanwhile, Chief Ministers Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana and Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi on Wednesday met for nearly 90 minutes and agreed to take steps to prevent a repeat of smog in the National Capital Region (NCR) next year.

"We are happy to have had a very fruitful meeting at Chandigarh. We recognize our deep and shared concern over the recent episode of heavy smog in our NCR. We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at preventing its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018," a joint statement said.

"During discussions, we agreed that the serious health risk to which such episodes of smog expose one and all require concrete and quick action on a number of fronts. We covered crop residue burning and vehicular pollution issues. We resolve to put in sustained efforts in pursuance of the jointly identified action points in the coming days, weeks and months," the statement added.

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