There would be better protection for the dwindling tiger population, a new plan for climate change mitigation and probably more vehicles on already-congested Indian roads. This is what environmentalists have to say about the green aspects of Union budget 2007-08.
What has angered environmentalists is the FM’s announcement on reducing excise duty on small cars. They fear it would strengthen the ‘Nano effect’ on the Indian roads – that is more and more small cars.
“If tax concessions had been linked to the fuel efficiency rather than size, it would have been more environment friendly,” said Dr R K Pachauri, head of winning organisation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Pachauri, along with Sunita Narain of Centre for Science and Environment, has spearheaded a campaign against small cars terming them air pollution hazards. CSE’s Anumita Roy Chowdhury said lower tax on smaller cars would encourage sale of diesel cars, an air pollution nightmare. Instead, the government should have waived excise duty on buses. She termed the FM’s announcement to lower the duty on bus chassis by four per cent a ‘cosmetic change’.
CSE, however, appreciated the FM for continuing with a differential tax structure for small and big cars. Chidambaram spoke about the review of fuel emission and efficiency regulation, use of gas, and building sustainable greenfield cities.
Chidambaram won plaudits from environmentalists for announcing a permanent institutional mechanism for development and coordination for various aspects of climate change and a Rs 50-crore grant to National Tiger Conservation Authority for deploying the special Tiger Protection Force.
On tigers, G C Mishra former Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife), Uttar Pradesh, wanted the tiger protection force should get legal protection from National Tiger Conservation Authority or else the aim of creating the force would fail.
Inputs from Venugopal Pillai from Lucknow.