The Centre continued to levy the Swachh Bharat cess even after it had been abolished following the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax regime on July 1, 2017, a Right to Information query has revealed, The Wire reported on Tuesday. The cess, first imposed in 2015, was collected as 0.5% surcharge on services.

The government’s response to the RTI query filed by The Wire revealed that the Ministry of Finance had collected Rs 4,391.47 crore through Swachh Bharat cess from April 2017 to September 2018. Of this, Rs 4,242.07 crore was collected in 2017-’18 and the rest during April-September this year.

The amount collected through cesses was Rs 3,901.83 crore in 2015-’16 and Rs 12,306.76 crore in 2016-’17, the response showed. In total, Rs 20,600.06 crore was collected as Swachh Bharat cess between 2015 and 2018.

However, the Centre did not reveal where the amount collected as cess was spent. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation only provided details of how much of the amount collected was allocated to it, and what proportion of this amount had been spent.

The money collected as Swachh Bharat cess has to be first deposited in the Consolidated Fund of India, from which it is transferred to the Swachh Bharat Kosh account, and then used for various programmes run under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Of the Rs 20,600 crore cess collected in the last four years, only Rs 16,300 crore was transferred to the sanitation ministry, the RTI query revealed. The Wire reported that it had sent a list of questions to the Ministry of Finance about the unspent amount, but was yet to receive a response.