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Tax slash plan for solar users

Siliguri, Jan. 8: The West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency has mooted a proposal to augment the use of solar energy in households across the state.

The agency officials — at meetings held here and in Jalpaiguri last week — proposed to the seven civic bodies of north Bengal to exempt a portion of municipal tax for a property where solar panels are used for heating water.

“In both the meetings, we have highlighted the benefits of renewable energy and urged the civic representatives to ponder over the tax exemption proposal to increase the use of solar energy in households,” Saktipada Gon Chaudhuri, the director of the agency and special secretary (power) of Bengal, said over phone from Calcutta. “The civic bodies have agreed to consider the proposal. Execution of this will entail amendment of the by-laws governing tax evaluation system in these towns.”

Representatives of the Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong civic bodies and Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) attended the first meeting in Siliguri. Authorities from the municipalities of Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar were present at the second meeting held in Jalpaiguri.

Gon Chaudhuri also floated the idea of setting up solar lights on the streets, which was accepted by the civic bodies. “We will give 200 solar street lights to the civic bodies, of which 150 will be for the seven municipalities in the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts,” Gon Chaudhuri said. “We will offer 75 per cent subsidy for the project, while the civic bodies have to bear the remaining 25 per cent of the cost.”

The agency director said two energy parks would be set up in Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong in 2008. The parks will be part of a plan envisaged by the Union renewable energy ministry to sell gadgets of renewable energy.

“Considering the rise in collection of garbage in Siliguri, the SMC authorities have been asked to think over a proposal of building a mini power plant at the dumping site using the waste,” Gon Chaudhuri said. At present, a similar plant of 6mw capacity is being run at Howrah.

The mayor of SMC, Bikash Ghosh, however, appeared oblivious of the development. “We do not have any such information so far,” he said.

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