Centre cuts pollution control budget by 50%, draws flak from experts
The Centre’s decision to cut down the budget on pollution control by 50 % this year has drawn criticism from environment experts who said while the nation reels under severe air pollution problem, it was shocking that the government has reduced its budgetary allocation.
The interim budget presented by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal Friday reduced the budget for pollution abatement from Rs 20 crore in the last fiscal to Rs 10 crore for 2019-20 and has not allocated any amount towards new and renewable energy.
Condemning this move, a member of the city-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the budget was “election friendly” and does not clarify on several taxes associated with renewable energy.
The activists were also enraged about the government barely mentioning about environment and climate change and not elaborating on financial allocation to the recently-launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which aims to reduce air pollution by 20-30 % by 2024.
Calling the budget a rhetoric, advocate and activist Gaurav Bansal said that by not allocating required money for tackling air pollution, the government has “failed to implement the NCAP” and insulted the national capital which has become a “gas chamber”.
Watch| Budget 2019 tax proposals: Here’s who gains and how
“If there is no budget how will the authorities tackle this problem. This budget is rhetoric with elections in mind. They have failed to implement NCAP by not giving any budget regarding it. They have reduced air pollution budget which is an insult to the national capital which has already become a gas chamber. Uttar Pradesh is also facing severe air pollution problems,” Bansal said.
Sharing the view, Priya Sreenivasan, renewable energy expert at CSE, said, “It appears to be an election-friendly budget. The renewable sector was awaiting a lot of clarity. The tax clarities in the renewable sector would have been helpful.” Speaking about the amount allocated to pollution abatement, another member-activist of the CSE said neither last year’s allocation was insufficient nor this year’s.
“Pollution and climate change are big issues. The government needs to have a look at the problem properly. Even NCAP was launched without any budget allocation or framework which should have been mentioned in the budget,” Polash Mukherjee, research associate at CSE, said.
The union budget has not changed the budgetary allocation for climate change action plan from last year by keeping it constant at Rs 40 crore.
A statement released by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) said environment and climate change issues hardly found mention in the budget.
“The finance minister emphasised on the rejuvenation of rivers and water bodies as among the grand vision for the next 10 years. Increasing the use of bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides and reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides is an important aspect of cleaning rivers and water bodies, which the budget could have addressed,” it said. PTI AG SMN