Well, the hype at present is on the Environment and its onus on the citizens of a country. As responsibility is concerned, we all have a lot to do which unfortunately is not being done anywhere and so the need arises to impose policies. During the process of development in a nation i.e. growth of its industries and building of infrastructure, environment is totally forgotten about. There is not much being done, which regulates the amount of pollution. And people in developed countries now prefer a region which is environmentally very well off because after all their monetary needs are met, they look for a pleasant atmosphere without noise and other pollutants. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that its citizens are environmentally safe.
I have mentioned only the ill effects of air pollution, not because it is the most important but because it is more prevalent.
Air pollution is mostly concentrated in urban areas, due to concentrations of people both as the sources and victims of pollution. It leads to health problems and also reduces human performance. It damages materials, increases maintenance costs which erode the infrastructure of an economy. It incurs great loss to the economy.
In rural and semi-urban areas it damages crops; moreover it harms the forest and aquatic ecosystems. It also leads to global warming.Chloroflurocarbons (CFC’s), one of the major nonfuel air pollutants lead to depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. These substances are primarily used as refrigerants. One economic problem which has resulted is the growing black market in illicitly produced CFC’s.The United States has spent approximately 2% of GDP on pollution abatement and control.
Presently, a survey conducted said that Kerala is getting warmer due to high deforestation rates as compared to afforestation and increased global warming. The reasons mentioned also include climate change and increased vulnerability to natural disasters. The survey was conducted by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) with assistance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It says that on an average, Kerala has become warmer by around 0.5 degree Celsius over the last 43 years. Air Pollution by the emission of greenhouse gases is mainly due to increased consumption of firewood and petroleum products. The pressure of the large number of tourists is felt on the coastal areas. Sand mining, over exploitation of mangroves and the growth of housing and industries are the other reasons mentioned. Dredging in coastal areas is also a major reason.
To conclude, I would say that if the government does not have money to protect each persons environment, the collection of an Environment Tax is justified, provided it makes progress. I don’t think the government will do that in India because, as it is the people feel that the money they pay as tax is not being utilized properly.
This calls for some intervention. It is up to the private players to take up this job. Where the Government has failed the Public can win provided they are willing to take risks. They can set up organizations to provide environmental safety to its customers by paying those companies an amount based on the work done. For example, if an individual’s pond in his premises is dirty or the air is polluted, he/she can approach the above mentioned organizations and ask them to clean the pond and also plant more trees in order to reduce the incidence of pollution after paying a specified amount. This will bring about an increase in employment, mainly for the rural people as they would only be truly willing to do such cleaning. The salaries ought to be high because environmental protection is very important and the fees charged should be accordingly high in urban areas and low in rural areas. This will also help to reduce the inequalities between a city and a village.
1.Environmental Problems and Policy Solutions, Chapter 2, Environmental Economics, Charles Kolstad, Oxford University Press
2.‘Kerala getting warmer by the day, says survey, T Nandakumar’, Pg 2, The Hindu, June 5, 2005