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Pollution Control Board - the government's cash cow

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Even as BWSSB, KPCL, KPTCL, BESCOM, etc are desperately strapped for cash, there is another government agency that's just rolling in money, viz the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). A cursory glance at the financial statements, provided on its web-site ( - though not quite in a reader friendly way as one would have liked it, which but is quite the norm with most government agency web-sites), shows the revenues at Rs 190 cr for total expenses of just Rs 23.54 cr, a mere 12% of the revenues, with the direct costs being just 5%. And, it's not as if they are being very frugal in their practices or anything like that.

A major source in the last year has been 'deposits' at Rs 27 cr, up from Rs 6 cr last year (4.5 times), even as they earned close to Rs 9 cr in the year as interest on the existing surpluses. In the next year, a bonanza will accrue on this account, in addition. Perhaps a large part of this is from the Bellary mining activity.

Another huge source of revenue is the 'consent fee', collection of which was Rs 32.34 cr in the past year, which seems to imply that once you pay the levy, you can go ahead and pollute as you want.

They levy a 'water cess' on the already broke BWSSB (check this), the arrears of which have mounted to Rs 27.4 cr, inclusive of penalty and iterest on account of delays - check this report in the New Indian Express (According to the Prevention and Pollution Control Act 1974, the pollution control board is authorised to collect cess for water drawn from natural resources and to enforce the pollution control rules in the state. At present, the water cess is fixed at 2 to 3 paise per kilo-litre for water used for domestic purposes, 5 to 10 paise for industrial cooling, 10 to 20 paise for the industries in which water pollution is bio-degradable. The amount is 20 to 30 paise for industries in which water pollution is non bio-degradable and toxic. The BWSSB has been supplying water for all these purposes in the city). In the first place, this levy on the BWSSB itself seems to defy logic. I expect, the KSPCB levies the users too, and perhaps at higher rates, for the same water.

All in all, is the KSPCB's mandate just to make money out of 'pollution', or control it as its name would suggest? If it's the latter, they obviously have not quite lived upto it, going by this comment by a well-known environmentalist. Apart from these official revenues is of course the 'black' revenues accruing to the babu's involved, which going by hearsay, is by no means a mean sum.

Isn't it time the Civil Society raised a few questions?

Muralidhar Rao


murali772's picture

consent fee - rather bizarre

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By levying a 'consent' fee, the objective clearly is to make money out of pollution. Shouldn't it instead be that upto a certain level (and then, specify the level), we can tolerate presently. And beyond that, it's a no-no. Further, as technology progresses, the levels could be made more stringent.

And, periodic inspections may be instituted to ensure compliance, which again would best be out-sourced to chartered engineers, with the Board and the chartered engineer collecting nominal fees for the same. This in fact is the current practice of the Dept of Industries & Commerce in the case of compliance as per Boilers & Pressue Vessels Act, and is generally a satisfactory and corruption free process.

The idea of the consent fee, whatever, seems quite bizarre.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

perhaps, an instance

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Apart from these official revenues is of course the 'black' revenues accruing to the babu's involved, which going by hearsay, is by no means a mean sum.

I believe this perhaps is one such instance.

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

worst department?

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Justice Patil termed pollution control board to be the worst department in the State, reprimanding the officer without mincing words. “Don’t you know it’s a serious issue? It is a matter of life and death, and what message will you leave for the future generation?” Justice Patil sought to know. “Dereliction in duty amounts to cheating the system, and you have to follow your conscience,” charged Justice. Ostensibly, the officer had to apologise.

For the full text of the report in the Deccan Herald, click here

Doesn't need further elaboration, right?

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