After Manali, it is now Shimla where a tax is now required to be paid for entering the city. Effective September 15, The Shimla Municipal corporation has imposed a green tax for non-HP registered vehicles. This tax will be charged at the rate of Rs. 50 for two wheeler, Rs. 200 for cars (hatchbacks and sedans), Rs. 300 for SUVs and Rs. 500 for trucks. A fine of Rs. 5,000 has also been applied for evading the tax.
The tax can be deposited either at Parwanoo or Sugam Center in Shimla or can also be paid online via an app that has been launched for the purpose and linked to all major banks. Once the tax is paid, the receipt will be valid for seven days. Currently there are no barriers in place for tax submission however a random check at several places will be done to keep a tab on tax evaders. The corporation hopes to raise up to Rs 11 to 15 crore annually from green tax which will be used for development works related to environment protection, afforestation, beautification, parking spaces, toilets, accelerators and other basic facilities.
Vehicles registered within Himachal Pradesh or belonging to Union and state governments, or defence services will be exempted from green tax. Residents of Himachal who bought and had their cars registered from other states will also be exempted from paying the tax after submitting their residence proof or Aadhar card copy. All vehicles carrying daily commodities like milk, bread, eggs etc. are exempted to avoid increase in rates of these commodities. Trucks carrying apples have also been spared.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that SMC is attempting to implement this tax. It was first attempted in 2012 but was rebuked by high court after HPPWD filed an objection related to traffic congestion caused by barriers and check post put up by SMC to collect the tax. In order to rectify their previous mistake, there are no barriers put up this time and an online app too was launched. For now, this program is expected to run and observed for three months post which further policy will be formed.
How valid SMC’s claims are and how this money will be utilized is something that only time will tell. For now, Shimla continues more to be a crowded residential city than a tourist destination. Beautification is pretty much is limited to Mall and Ridge and rest of the city still faces problems like littering, sewage leakage, garbage burning, waste disposal, public toilets, and rain shelters