How green was this budget? I’d say pale green. Cleaner energy has got a thumbs up. A Clean Energy Fund was announced, and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s outlay increased by 61 per cent. Duties on LED lights — the greenest yet — have been reduced, on par with CFLs, helping the middle class make greener purchases. But this won’t really be particularly far reaching. For one, our roads will still be as crowded, despite the hike in petroleum prices.
The 2% increase in excise on SUVs and large cars is just not adequate to dissuade the buyers of these expensive cars. The auto industry has announced an increase ranging from Rs. 3100 to Rs. 41,000, amounts unlikely to deter car buyers.
Sadly, it doesn’t create a more robust public alternative either. There is little incentive to give a real shot in the arm to public transport anywhere. The FM has taken note of cycle rickshaws as green transport, but subsidies have been offered only to a new kind of solar powered rickshaw, hardly tried on a mass scale yet.
What about the cost of creating more road space for the thousands of conventional rickshaws all over urban India? Although the budget considers environmental issues, it is way too piecemeal to bring on the impact we need. Cleaning up Goa and Tirupur — as announced here — will not have the same ripple effect as going deeper into one of the promising ideas of this budget-the polluter pays principle. Maybe next year?
A priest recently urged his congregation to consider a carbon fast during Lent.
For the thousands of Indian who keep vrats and fasts every single week, that’s an idea to localise. We could take the bus every Tuesday, or eat only local fruit, or spent Saturday with half the number of light bulbs, or cook vrat food without electrical appliances. As our environmental challenges multiply, we must revisit our traditional actions. The choices are endless, they only need the support of our convictions.