The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has proposed a green tax to promote “ecologically responsible behaviour”, reported The Hindu. The ministry has drawn up a draft policy that includes the new cess as well as suggestions to spread awareness and encourage the sustainable utilisation of wood. It also proposes a national framework for implementation and similar state-level policy documents.
“Environmental cess, green tax, carbon tax etc. may be levied on certain products and services for facilitating ecologically responsible behaviour, garnering citizen's contribution and supplementing financial resources,” the National Forest Policy, 2016, suggests.
Making their case for wood cultivation, the ministry said the Centre should relax its restrictions and allow people to harvest and sell it. According to the policy, increase in wood use will help fight climate change as its carbon footprint is much lower than its substitutes. It also pointed out that such a drive will give rise to an indigenous industry, thus creating jobs for many.
However, the policy also urges the government to "double tree cover, outside forests, within a decade” with an ambition to make one-third of the country's geographical area green. At present, one-fourth of the space has forest and tree cover.
"Governments must switch focus from forests to landscapes, from canopy cover to healthy ecosystems, from substituting wood to promoting sustainable wood use, from participatory approaches to empowerment, from joint forest management to community forest management and from qualitative policy statements to a results-based policy framework,” it reads. Anybody can send in comments on the new policy prepared by the Indian Institute of Forest Management till June 30.