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Swachh Bharat cess: When cleanliness comes at a price

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The 0.5% Swachh Bharat cess which is slated to bring in around 10,000 crores a year for the government might seem to be a small change, but its effects are far-reaching. Making a PAN card, travelling via train or even going to a restaurant will all cost more.

The yearly Budgets have become a licensed opportunity to fiddle with the tax laws and rates. It was in the Budget 2015-16 that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed a 2% Swachh Bharat cess “on all or certain services, if the need arises”, but no date was set as such at the time. Since the initial cess proposed was 2%, the question remains as to would the remaining cess be levied later?

Many might support this move viewing it as a measure to uplift the filthy face of the country which has become a point of public shame. However, in a country where fund diversion is only too common, how can we, the common citizen taxpayers of the country, be sure that the money won’t go into Modi’s image-making campaign but truly in cleaning the nation? After all the Swachh Bharat campaign was an initiative towards a better political mileage for the Prime Minister and the BJP.

Within the remaining months of this fiscal the Swachh Bharat cess is supposed to yield around Rs 3,800 crore. But funds usually don’t reach where it’s most needed—the municipality and the panchayat levels in general.

A notification regarding the cess was issued by the CBEC on November 6 and it was effective from November 15, following which, all taxable services face a hike from 14% to 14.5% in service tax rates. Being Diwali week, many were on holiday during this period and most companies couldn’t make the necessary changes at such short notice.

The 2015-16 Budget held no benefits for the average salary earning citizens but promised to cut corporate taxes from 30% to 25% in four years. Modi has even promised foreign firms of tax exemption. Is it not the duty of the corporates to contribute to a cleaner country? Why is it that only individuals are burdened on this count?

Moreover, it was only on November 11 that many of the issues were clarified by CBEC through FAQs, such as—services with alternate tax rates will also have alternate cess rates, and that no Cenvat credit would be available on this Swachh Bharat Cess. Without this input credit, the effective rate of the tax is marginally more than the proposed 14.5% service tax on paper.

As per initial estimates, the Swachh Bharat project needs a funding of ₹62,009 crore. 23 per cent of this (₹14,623 crore) would be paid by the Government of India while the States would pay ₹4,874 crore (25 per cent of the government paid amount).

The remaining amount is expected to come from the Swachh Bharat Kosh, Private Sector Participation, State governments/ULB resources, innovative revenue streams, user charges, and other methods such as external assistance and CSR. User charges are usually only used for maintenance expenses, and borrowing money for a social cause is never a good idea. The government would do good to think of alternative methods, such as a deduction from every individual under the Income Tax Act.

A cleanliness drive has to start at the grassroots level and on a regular basis to address the country’s filth problem. A civic sense needs to be developed in each and every citizen for this project to turn into a reality. The cess described by the Finance Ministry as “not another tax, but a step towards involving each and every citizen in making a contribution to Swachh Bharat” is definitely not the way to achieve this end.

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Here is an Elephant inspired by PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan!

The video of an elephant picking up trash and putting it in the bin is a Must-Watch for today

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Swachh bharat
The viral video where Elephant is seen cleaning the park. Twitter

July 12, 2017: The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a Government of India initiative to accelerate the efforts of cleanliness and sanitation. The mission was launched on October 2, 2014.

Anybody from India who has traveled abroad to a developed nation knows how dirty the country’s streets were at one point of time and how one idea of making India clean has brought a revolution. Earlier, we have seen viral pictures shared on social media of the political rallies and campaigns which leave behind waste and rubbish on the streets when their work is done.

ALSO WATCH:  The video shared on Twitter shows an elephant cleaning the garbage lying around him at a resort in South Africa.

According to some bureaucracies and administrations, this government scheme like Swachh Bharat is bound to fail. They have the notion that any money funded to such a scheme will go more towards individual pockets than the actual community development and progress.

ALSO READ: Our Culture of Environmental Protection has long been Forgotten, says Union Minister Harsh Vardhan

Former Chairman of Press Council of India, Markandey Katju explains, “India is only partially industrialized, and hence the feudal backward mindsets in people still persist. Almost everything is polluted, from the air ( as in Delhi ) to water to foodstuffs. Without water filters, boiling etc, it is not possible to drink water anywhere; it could make you sick.”

He concludes that corruption is inevitable in a society like India where industrialization process is not complete.

While many people have ignored such a positive message for the Nation’s cleanliness, it looks like the animals are literally playing the role of good citizens in carrying out this campaign. The video of an elephant trying to clean his surroundings should perhaps just inspire us to actually listen to the policy of the government.

prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393


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Embrace Cleanliness to make India disease free: PM Narendra Modi

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Narendra Modi, Wikimedia

Haridwar, May 3, 2017: Stressing the importance of preventive healthcare, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called upon people to embrace cleanliness.

Inaugurating a research centre of the Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurved here, Modi also found fault over what he said was the neglect of its traditional forms of medicine like Ayurveda.

“While pre-independence period witnessed attempts to destroy India’s indigenous and traditional arts and forms of healthcare like Ayurveda, a large part of post-independence period was spent in neglecting them.”

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Modi lamented that the indifference led to foreign countries acquiring patents.

“The world now is not just content with curing diseases but there is more emphasis on wellness and preventive healthcare. The best way to ensure and promote preventive healthcare is cleanliness,” he said.

“If we resolve to be clean, if we resolve not to litter or spread dirt and filth, we can save more lives than a doctor does. Cleanliness is the way ahead to make India disease free.

“Our ancestors spent their lives making innovations and turning these innovations useful for humanity.

“We must never forget that innovative spirit and continue making efforts to develop our traditional techniques and methods,” Modi added.

The Prime Minister hailed Ramdev for revolutionizing yoga in the country and creating global awareness about it. (IANS)

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Swachh Bharat: 10 Steps that will make “Clean India” Campaign Successful

“Is cleaning only the responsibility of the karamcharis? Do citizens have no role in this? We have to change this mindset.” – Narendra Modi

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A garbage dump. Pixabay.

Swachh Bharat Mission

November 30, 2016: We never back down from boasting about our well-kept houses but somehow we always fail miserably from keeping our environment clean. Today, the cleanliness of our country is one of the most concerning issues. The roads are always filthy and the rivers which are religiously pious and pure have been rendered poisonous. It is the duty of the municipal corporation to maintain the cleanliness of the cities but it is also our social responsibility too. It is true that we need to be the change that we want to see around us. There are a million approaches to this problem, but here are a few steps which can help us embark on the journey towards a Swachh Bharat.

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Environmental awareness and plantations For Swachh Bharat

Every educational institution must educate the society about the importance of the environment in today’s world. Everyone should be taught how to keep their environment clean and maintain proper hygiene.

Deforestation is one of the major reasons of pollution today and therefore, more tree plantations should be encouraged.

Appropriate disposal of garbage For Swachh Bharat

Call it negligence or laziness but we keep disposing our garbage at the spot we are on the streets. We need to stop this littering and keep the streets, woods, water bodies and our surroundings clean. Make it a habit to properly dispose the garbage into dustbins and also encourage others to do it.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s View On Swachh Bharat

Sorting your garbage For Swachh Bharat

We think that the sorting different types of garbage are a tedious task. On the contrary, it actually is the most effective way of garbage disposal. All we need to do is sort our dustbins into two categories, biodegradable and non-biodegradable and dump the waste accordingly. We can help others around to implement this too. By doing this we can reuse certain non-biodegradable waste or dispose of it safely to prevent soil pollution.

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Hygiene

The spreading of diseases can be reduced if we maintain hygiene both indoors and outdoors it, in turn, helps in destroying the breeding spots for mosquitoes, rats, and many other pathogen carriers. “Diarrhea is a leading killer of children, accounting for 9 percent of all deaths among children under age 5 worldwide,” says UNICEF according to Make a Change. Dirty hands are one of the main reasons for the spread of diseases and everyone should clean their hands properly especially before eating.

Reusing and Recycling

Reusing and recycling are two huge leaps towards a clean environment. We need to find alternative uses for old and redundant objects. We also need to recycle objects which cannot be disposed of so that it does not affect the surroundings in any way.

Say NO to plastic For A Swachh Bharat

Plastic is poisonous for our environment. Being non-biodegradable it does not break down in the soil and hence, needs to be disposed of properly. If ingested, it can kill animals and also poisons our food if not disposed of properly. Therefore, we need to cut down the usage of plastic bags and always dispose of them in dustbins.

Consume what you need

Things we need and we want are different. The question is not how much can you pay for what you consume but how much is left over on this planet for an individual and how much can be consumed. Extreme exploitation of resources will lead to their depletion. Hence, we need to consider the planet’s future and make our decisions.

Water care

Water is the most valuable resource on this planet and sustains all life on Earth. The per capita availability has been on the decline in India. The rise in the population and the depletion of potable water due to pollution are the biggest reasons for the decline. Rainwater harvesting is the best way of making water available in the surroundings as water is the driving force of life, agriculture and many industries. Another option to reduce water consumption and wastage are to recycle using appropriate water treatment.

Reduce carbon footprints

Carbon Footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere as a result of the actions of an individual, organization or community.

We need to use energy efficient products and limit the usage of air conditioners, water heaters, dishwashers or thermostats. We need to keep our carbon footprints in control to control the greenhouse effect.

Also Read: What Sachin Tendulkar Has To Say On “Swachh Bharat – Swasth Bharat

Air pollution

Burning garbage might seem like an easy way to dispose garbage but we fail to realize that we release a lot of toxins into the air surrounding us. Some vehicles which have not been serviced regularly and properly also burns a lot of fuel and results in air pollution. Using public transport reduces the number of vehicles on the roads and hence, decreases air pollution.

We need to implement this in our daily life and make it a part of our routine. Only by doing so we will be able to keep our country clean otherwise, we will be leading to an environmental dystopia.

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-prepared by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker