New Delhi: A high-level panel of 10 chief ministers has recommended the levy of a cess on petrol, diesel and telecom services to finance the centre’s Swachh Bharat mission—a proposal whose acceptance would make fuel, phone calls and mobile data consumption more expensive.

A report submitted by the panel to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that the centre should bear 75% of the entire cost of the mission, with the states contributing 25%; in the case of under-developed hill states, the ratio would be 90:10.

The panel also proposed a cess on accumulated waste produced by mineral waste generation plants like coal, aluminium and iron ore to fund the programme aimed at ensuring a clean India by 2019.

The high-level NITI Ayog chief ministers’ sub-group on Swachh Bharat, headed by Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, was formed to examine the financial requirements for implementation of the Swachh Bharat mission, suggest measures for meeting its budgetary needs and recommend institutional mechanisms for effective execution.

Besides Naidu, the panel consists of the chief ministers of Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

The imposition of a cess will make fuel and telecom services more expensive and may not be a popular move politically, but Naidu said Swachh Bharat was above politics. “All of us have to work for the country as Swachh Bharat is one above politics. We have to work together," he said.

Imposing a temporary cess to fund the programme will not be a bad idea if it is only for a couple of years, said N.R. Bhanumurthy, professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi.

“However, Swachh Bharat mission should be consistent with the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission and the funding pattern should be similar to what is decided for other centrally sponsored schemes," he said.

The 14th Finance Commission raised the states’ share of net central tax revenue to 42% from 32% starting 2015-16.

The chief ministers’ report also proposed the creation of a state-level fund called Swachh Bharat Kosh for state governments to raise their share of the cost of implementing the mission.

It suggested the appointment of a professional agency at the central and state levels to design strategy, implement, monitor and evaluate progress of the mission, which Modi inaugurated on 2 October 2014.

The report also made a case for issuance of Swachh Bharatbonds by central and state governments to raise resources for the programme which, among other aims, seeks to eliminate open defecation by 2019.

Part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds of public sector companies may be spent in states where they are located, the report said.

The panel suggested the formulation of a tariff policy for power generated from waste-to-energy plants. “Tariff for power from these plants may be fixed by the electricity regulatory commission in a manner that such projects are viable. SEBs and discoms may be mandated to compulsorily buy power generated from the waste-to-energy plants," the report suggested.

Asit Ranjan Mishra contributed to this story.

Close