HC stays collection of Water Conservation Fund from industries

Cuttack: In a major setback to the State government, the Orissa High Court on Tuesday stayed the collection of Water Conservation Fund (WCF) from industries operating in Odisha.

The court restrained the State government from collecting cess to set up a corpus fund, which it wanted to utilise for construction of water conservation projects such as barrages/check dams in the upstream areas.

Utilising the fund, it also aimed to conserve water in these projects for use in lean seasons for agriculture, industrial and other purposes.

The companies knocked the HC doors after the State Cabinet decided last November that industries drawing more than or equal to one cusec of water will have to make a one-time deposit of Rs 2.5 crore per cusec of water allocated for setting up the corpus fund (WCF).

Later, it allowed the industries to contribute to the WCF in five equal installments, in five years (2016-21).

Opposing the decision, industrial houses filed a petition arguing that since they are paying tax for their setups, it should also include the water cess. Besides, they also pointed out that in the absence of a specific industrial policy, such tax could not be collected from them and is against law.