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India News| India News

India News| India News

NEW DELHI – The Budget 2022-2223 has been praised because it focuses on energy transition, climate action, sustainability and taking India on a low carbon growth track. However, a closer look at the allocations of funds for specific activities in different ministries shows several proposals that would counter India’s efforts to address climate change and protect its environment.
Different think tanks, in an analysis of the green components of the annual financial statements, have noted that the Budget has allocated a substantial sum to make oil palm plantation attractive despite the fact that it is ecologically harmful and also pitched for potentially environmentally hazardous river-linking project. But other crucial activities, such as air pollution mitigation plan, got a raw deal.
They also noted that the government has provided less funding for urgent environmental issues such as air pollution and wildlife conservation. The Delhi-based think tanks Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment and Centre for Policy Research (CPR) pointed out that budget cuts for air pollution are among the biggest environmental shortfalls.
LIFE’s analysis stated that oil palm has priority over clean air, biodiversity, and climate change. It also highlighted how allocations to institutions dealing with core issues of the environment ministry were reduced to the Central Zoo Authority, Wildlife Institute of India, and National Biodiversity Authority.
The ministry’s overall budget has been increased by 20% from Rs 2,520 crore to Rs 3,030 cr in 2021-22 to 2022-23. However the amount allocated for fighting air pollution is still inadequate.
“While Rs. 460 Crores may seem substantial for ‘controlling pollution’, this amount is not sufficient to even cover the cost monitoring the air quality in 132 cities where NCAP is implemented. The budget analysis paper of LIFE said that this does not include 4000 cities/towns or many villages that are still polluted, but are not covered by NCAP. It noted that the Agriculture Ministry had been given Rs 900 crore for oil palm promotion.
CPR referred to the critical issue air pollution and noted that the Commission on Air Quality Management (CAQM), although it has seen a slight decline in funding, remained stable for the NCAP.
“Except for the 15th Finance Commission grants to urban local bodies, there has not been much progress in developing a strategy to address this systemic issue. The longer-term goal to improve ambient air quality is more ambitious, so the government must invest in regulatory, monitoring (especially in rural and peri-urban areas) and enforcement capacity. CPR stated that the budget does not deliver on this front.
Referring specifically to river inter-linking projects, it stated that although the budget has included energy and climate action (at least in rhetorical terms), a similar emphasis is missing on ecological protection.
“For example, the Rs 44,605 crore Ken Betwa link project, which holds the promise of five additional such projects, includes provisions to clean power generation – hydro- and solar – but these gains could come at the expense of fragile ecological balance.”
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