NHRC seeks report on non-collection of water tax from companies in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Taking cognizance on the matter of non-collection of water tax from various companies using river water for commercial purposes, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Odisha chief secretary and secretary of Water Resource Department.

The commission asked to submit an action taken report within four weeks.

The commission has issued this direction while responding to a complaint filed by rights activist Akhand in this regard.

The petition said a number of companies have been allocated water from various rivers like Mahanadi and its tributaries in Odisha.

From 2010 to 2017, a total quantity of 1229.857 cusecs of water has been allocated to 113 companies from various rivers more particularly from Mahanadi. But Water Resources Department of Odisha which has been under control of Chief Minister since last 15 years has miserably failed to collect water tax from these companies due to the negligence of the public authorities, said the petitioner.

“Non-payment of water tax by the companies has caused a colossal loss of Rs 3400 crore to state exchequer. If interest against pending amount is charged, it will be more than Rs. 5000 crore revenue loss to state exchequer”, alleged Akhand.

It is learned that officers and engineers are hand in gloves with these defaulting Companies and have been bribed heavily for not collecting water tax, alleged the petitioner.

According to the government data, total 287 companies have not paid water tax to the state government. Total outstanding of water tax against these companies is Rs. 3411 crore.