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Budget 2022-23 is at odds with itself as far as the environment goes

Budget 2022-23 is at odds with itself as far as the environment goes

Vehicles move in low visibility due to smog in New Delhi, November 10, 2020. Tuesday’s high levels of emergency air quality mean that vehicles are moving in the streets. Photo: PTI/Atul Yadav


  • Although some steps are positive for climate action and energy transition, others are not, according to energy researchers.
  • Union Budget 2022-23 is a prominent document on climate action and energy transition, but its heavy focus on infrastructure projects could have multiple implications for the environment.
  • Gati Shakti alone, with its seven engines of growth, will drive the last few nails into India’s ecological coffin, said activist Nityanand Jayaraman.

Kochi: On February 1, Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2022 to parliament. Researchers say that despite this refreshing focus, the budget fails to address these issues in many ways.

Environmentalists claim that the budget does not provide much funding for the environment and its protection. They fear that the focus on infrastructure development and megaprojects will only exacerbate the environmental degradation already occurring in India.

The good news

First, the good news.

Sitharaman stated that the government will be focusing on natural, chemical-free farming beginning with farmers living near the Ganga. The Union government also increased allocations to the Jal Jeevan Mission, from a revised estimate at Rs 45,011 crore to a budget estimate at Rs 60,000 crore for fiscal year 2022-223.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), is estimated to have spent Rs 3,030 crore this year, compared with Rs 2,520 crore in FY22. In FY22, the government spent Rs 150 crore for the Deep Ocean Mission. The budget for this year is estimated to be Rs 650 million. Allocations for the National Mission for Green India and Project Tiger, as well as funds to combat pollution, have seen an increase in allocations compared to last.

India’s climate targets, including the recent announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modis that India will achieve net zero emission by 2070, have meant that urgent action is required to transition to clean energy. This was the case with the Union Budget.

The budget listed four priorities: energy transition and climate action, along with productivity enhancement and investments and sunrise opportunities. In her budget speech, the finance minister made several climate-related announcements. She announced an additional allocation for production-linked incentive (PLI) to support the manufacture of high-efficiency photovoltaic modules.

This is not a new idea. R.K. Singh is the power and new and sustainable energy minister. Had been announcedThe Union government announced in November that it will increase funding under the PLI scheme to domestic solar cells and module production to Rs 24,000 crore, from Rs 4500 crore.

Sitharaman announced in her budget speech that 5-7% of the biomass pellets would be co-fired at thermal power plants to reduce CO2 emissions. This will help transition to a carbon-neutral economy. She added that this would prevent stubble burning from agricultural fields.

This is a positive step: co-firing biomass pellets and coal can lead to a decrease in coal dependence and a sharp drop in pollution levels. Down to Earth. It is a one-of-a-kind idea, however. RecommendedCommission for Air Quality Management, Union governments.

The government plans to introduce a battery-swapping program in order to encourage electric vehicles. A battery swap is the exchange of an empty electric car battery for a charged one. This is a move that can reduce the long refuelling time that is one of zero-emission vehicles’ major drawbacks.

Sovereign Green Bonds are issued to mobilize resources for green infrastructure. The proceeds will be used in public sector projects that help reduce the carbon intensity of our economy. Four pilot projects are included in the budget for coal gasification. This is the process of converting coal into chemicals that can be used to generate electricity. Sitharaman said that special mobility zones in urban areas will be promoted with zero fossil-fuel policy.

‘More jargon, less incentives on clean energy’

The increased funding under the PLI scheme, the inclusion of a ‘zero fossil fuel’ policy, electric vehicle policy, battery-swapping and coal gasification policy are all steps in the right direction, said energy economist Vibhuti Garg, Lead India, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Furthermore, the launching of “sovereign green bonds” will also help reduce the carbon intensity of the economy and enable access to a large pool of money for the energy transition, she added.

While jargon terms such as “Energy Transition”, “Climate Finance” and “Inclusive Growth” were mentioned multiple times in the budget speech, the announcements appear to fall short of promoting clean energy in an accelerated manner, she further said.

An increase in capex at a macro level will boost economic growth. However, there has been no additional budgetary support or tax incentive for clean energy grid and off-grid such as solar rooftop, storage technologies, green hydrogen, and other renewables. In an email, she stated that this is despite the expectation of support for these new technologies to improve their commercial viability. The Wire Science.

New technologies will be needed to support India’s ambitious goal of 500 gigawatts (GW), non-fossil fuel energy by 2030.

The government should have allocated a budget and reduced duties to permit rooftop solar, storage, offshore wind, green hydrogen, etc. Further, [it]She pointed out that the document did not include any mention of support to close inefficient fossil fuel power plants or address growing air pollution problems.

The Union government allocated very specific funds to combat air pollution in its last budget (it had already announced Rs 2,217 crore to 42 urban centers with more than one million inhabitants), but there are no additional funds this year to address the issue. The Implementation of Budget document stated that several steps have been taken in this area. According to the document, the 15th Finance Commission identified 42 urban centers and state monitoring programs that are being established to combat air pollution.

Nityanand Jakarman, activist and writer from the Vettiver Collective said that climate action allocations are not sufficient. He highlighted that the Climate Change Action Plan allocation was Rs 30 crore.

This is absurd for a country as large as India. It is less than the allocation for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s regional offices (Rs 50 crores), he said.

The budget prioritized climate action among the four pillars and explicitly acknowledged that climate risks were present, but it didn’t provide a boost for climate adaptation and resilience, stated Abinash Mhanty, programme manager, Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

While the budget made a renewed emphasis on urban planning as one of its key takeaways, it did not mention climate-proofing these infrastructure and investments. India has suffered an average loss of $87 million annually as a result. More than 75% Indian districts are considered extreme event hotspots.

Infrastructure comes at a cost

It includes the development of dense charging infrastructure and grid-scale batteries systems that will help India meet its climate targets. However, large-scale projects could have adverse impacts on the environment. Under the PM Gati Shakti scheme, a variety of infrastructure projects were planned. Although the finance minister claimed that all infrastructure development will be done using clean energy, the scale of these projects makes that seem uncertain.

Sitharaman says that this year, the country will have 25,000 km of new national highways. A government spokesperson said that Rs 20,000 crore would be used to fund this project through innovative financing options to supplement the public resources. Press release.

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To aid states in their infrastructure development, the Union government will also be allocating a staggering Rs 15,000 crore this year. Sitharaman stated that these loans will be 50-year, interest-free loans. This is in addition to the normal borrowing that states can apply for. These loans will also be used to finance projects under the PM Gati Shakti program.

Land Conflict WatchThe data research agency, which tracks disputes over natural resources, discovered that infrastructure projects impact more than 15 million hectares of land in India. According to data, there are currently 315 ongoing conflicts around infrastructure projects. This could increase as infrastructure projects become more common.

Jayaraman stated that budgetary allocations to schemes and projects with significant climate-related potential and impacts upon biodiversity and livelihoods are tens or thousands of times higher than those for climate change action, polluting control, and biodiversity preservation.

Gati Shakti alone, with its seven engines of growth (roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways, logistics infrastructure), will be sufficient to drive the last few nails into India’s ecological coffin. These mega-commodities will replace the infrastructures that ensure survival for ordinary Indians, and worsen environmental degradation and social inequality.

More river-linking is in the works

The controversial and ambitious Ken-Betwa river link project was just a precursor to much more. Sitharaman announced that the draft detailed project reports for five other river linking projects were completed. These are the Par-Tapi Narmada, Damanganga–Pinjal and the Godavari-Krishna-Krishna-Krishna-Pennar, Pennar-Cauvery, and the Damanganga–Pinjal.

The finance minister stated that the Union government will support the implementation of the agreement once it has been reached by all the beneficiaries states.

For FY23, she also announced Rs 1,400 Crore for the controversial and ambitious Ken-Betwa river connecting project. The project has been heavily criticised by water experts, conservationists, and activists (both). Social environmental) for the numerous deleterious hydrological, social and environmental effects it would have in the Bundelkhand area of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The budget talks about climate action and protecting our environment, but it also encourages environmentally disastrous river-linking project. Jairam Ramesh (Rajya Sabha) was an ex-environment minister and wrote about the budget announcement on Twitter.

The Budget talks on the one hand about climate action and protecting our environment. On the other hand, it encourages environmentally destructive river-linking programs. Although rhetoric sounds nice, it is not the best. Actions matter more. The Modi government is a good example of this. [sic]It is on a dangerous path.

 

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