A major chunk of the environmental cess is collected from trucks that enter Delhi every day.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led Delhi government has collected over Rs 883 crore as environmental cess over the last four years, but has spent just 1.6% of the total environmental cess collected to tackle issues of pollution in the national capital.
This was revealed by the Delhi government’s Transport Department in a written reply through RTI to The Sunday Guardian. According to the information provided by the Transport Department of the Delhi government, the Delhi government collected over Rs 503 crore as environmental cess in 2017, while it collected around Rs 228 crore in 2018 and over Rs 110 crore in 2019.This year till September, the Delhi government collected around Rs four crore. The environmental cess is being collected by the Delhi government as part of environmental compensation fee from polluting trucks that have been entering Delhi and from every litre of diesel sold in the national capital. A major chunk of the environmental cess is collected from trucks that enter Delhi every day.
However, the Delhi government has spent just a miniscule amount of the money from the total environmental cess it collected over these years towards taking measures to stop the spread of pollution in the city, that has been choking every year in the winters. The RTI reply from the Delhi government also says that the government has spent just Rs 15 crore and 58 lakh over the last four years towards environmental protection and clean air. The AAP government has not spent a single penny from the environmental cess in 2017, while it spent just Rs 15 lakh in 2018 for improvement and maintenance of NMV (Non-Motor Vehicle) lanes and Rs 43 crore for deployment of civil defence volunteers as marshals in the city. In 2017, the AAP government had promised to bring in Hydrogen powered buses as public transport bus in the city for cleaner transport. However, according to the RTI reply, the Delhi government has spent just Rs 15 crore since 2019 to procure these buses. Delhi has been choking with “poor” to “hazardous” air every year during the winters, when the AQI reaches an unimaginable level of 999 on many days. The air in Delhi around that time is covered with a thick blanket of smog, making it difficult for the elderly and children to breathe. However, the Delhi government has been blaming the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana for stubble burning which, according to the Delhi government, contributes to the major chunk of the air pollution here. However, the RTI reply also says that the Delhi government has spent around Rs 265 crore as part of the payment towards the development of the DelhiMeerut RRTS (Rapid Rail Transport System) as per a Supreme Court order dated 18 August 2018. This Rs 265 crore was released by the Delhi government in 2019 from the environmental cess it collected.