The greenery cess that the Mangalore City Corporation (MCC) has been collecting from its citizens for last seven years is piled up in the accounts department and has not been utilised for the said purpose.
The Corporation has collected Rs 4.18 crore as greenery cess since 2007, the very purpose of which is to grow greenery in the city limits, in the available lung space. A sum of Rs 1.8 crore has been collected as greenery cess in 2012-13, alone.
The Town Planning section has been collecting 50 paise per square feet from the residential buildings and Re 1 per square feet from commercial buildings as green cess. However, the MCC has so far not laid any action plan to utilise this amount, rather it is added to the general fund.
An official from the town planning section said that the fund is not specifically utilised for growing greenery, but is diverted to other works including park maintenance. But, when the MCC has separate fund for maintenance of park and the Mangalore Urban Development Authority (MUDA) collecting separate fee for developing parks in the city, the need for utilising greenery cess for park maintenance does not arise.
The Corporation has not made an attempt to chalk out a plan to spread greenery in the city by collaborating with the forest department. An official from the Mangalore range forest department, who did not wish to be named, said that the forest department undergoes certain constraints in spending its funds for promoting greenery in the city limits, as the responsibility largely lies with the MCC. The department faces ‘rate limits’ while funding for beautifying MCC with greenery.
This problem could be solved if the MCC makes a collaborative effort with the forest and horticulture departments towards utilising the fund, he said.
Further, the official proposed an idea to form a committee of departments concerned and lay an action plan in different phases to spread green cover in Mangalore.
Afforestation drives could be conducted in association with non-government organisations and schools to promote greenery. Apart from identifying lung space in the city limits to plant oxygen generating and ornamental plants, saplings can be distributed to households, requesting them to plant them in their house premises.
Pots with saplings can be placed in important locations of the city, along with laying lawns, planting saplings in medians and circles, the official suggested.
The only instance of the MCC giving its fund to the forest department was in 2010, when Rs 10 lakh was given for afforestation drive.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, MCC Commissioner Ajith Kumar Hegde said that the Corporation had so far not made any specific plans for spending greenery cess. “We intend to chalk out plan to spend the cess amount through afforestation drive, this year,” he said.