Maharashtra to get ₹793 crore for pollution control but no clarity on utilisation yet: MPCB
Of the ₹793 crore, Mumbai will receive the largest chunk of the allocation – ₹488 crore – among 46 other cities in the country which have more than one million population, followed by Pune (₹134 crore), Nagpur (₹66 crore), Nashik (₹41 crore), while Aurangabad and Vasai-Virar will get ₹32 crore each.Updated: Jul 01, 2020 11:01 IST
Six cities in Maharashtra with a one million-plus population will receive ₹793 crore for controlling air pollution in 2020-21, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said. However, according to pollution control body there is no clarity on where and how the funds need to be utilised.
Of the ₹793 crore, Mumbai will receive the largest chunk of the allocation – ₹488 crore – among 46 other cities in the country which have more than one million population, followed by Pune (₹134 crore), Nagpur (₹66 crore), Nashik (₹41 crore), while Aurangabad and Vasai-Virar will get ₹32 crore each.
During a meeting scheduled on June 12 with the Union environment ministry, the pollution control boards of various states were informed about the disbursement of funds, said VM Motghare, joint director (air quality), MPCB.
“The minutes of the meeting were shared with us on Friday, and we can formally announce that Maharashtra will get ₹793 crore as per the 15th Finance Commission report. However at the moment, there is no clarity on whether the disbursed funds will be linked to the Centre’s Smart Cities and Swachh Bharat Missions. Also, we need more clarity on the utilisation of funds and submission of expenditure statements,” said Motghare.
On February 1, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech announced ₹4,400 crore for clean air in cities with a population more than one million. The fund was to be made available to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to 46 cities in India. Soon after, the finance ministry published a document highlighting individual funds to be disbursed to these cities, with separate fund allocations for Swachh Bharat Mission and air pollution mitigation.
In March, the Parliamentary Standing Committee in Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change observed that allocating ₹4,400 crore for air pollution control was more than the entire budget allocation for the entire Union environment ministry (₹3,100 crore) for 2020-21. Responding queries raised by the committee, the environment ministry on March 6 submitted, “The budgetary allocation of ₹4,400 crore through MoHUA, is intended to be a performance-related grant, which would be released to only the million-plus cities, based on the improvements in average annual concentrations of both PM [particulate matter] 10 and PM2.5 (equal weightage of 50%). Such grants would, however, be released only based on the improvements (as calculated in January 2021). Cities shall use the same for taking up activities and measures that would help to bring down the pollution levels further.”
Meanwhile, of the ₹460 crore allocated for air pollution control by the finance ministry in 2019-20, Maharashtra was to receive ₹41 crore for 17 non-attainment cities (identified then) under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). This included ₹10 crore funds for two years for four million-plus cities (Mumbai, Pune, Navi Mumbai and Nagpur) and ₹10 lakh each for cities with a population of less than 5 lakh and ₹20 lakh each for those with a population of five to 10 lakh, among other non-attainment cities. Non-attainment cities are those with PM concentration consistently below the national ambient standards.
“So far, we received ₹25 crore from the Centre, of which ₹6 crore each has been disbursed to civic bodies of Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Navi Mumbai, while the remaining ₹1 crore has been given to the remaining cities. We are yet to receive ₹16 crore from the 2019-20 budget,” said Motghare, adding that city-wise air action plan progress reports were being compiled by MPCB.
Clarifying on the matter, SN Tripathi, apex committee member of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and professor of Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, said that the environment ministry and MoHUA are looking into the disbursal. “Two central ministries are working on this together. MoHUA will be disbursing the fund because it is focused on urban development for city level pollution abatement plans, but it will be done after evaluation by the Union environment ministry because this pertains to air pollution reduction. The environment ministry will be assessing the air pollution mitigation measures being implemented by each city based on their action plans, and their performance will be communicated to MoHUA, which will be disbursing the funds to individual cities on a quarterly basis. This is expected to happen from January 2021 onwards. The exact methodology of how this will be done is currently being worked out by the two ministries,” said Tripathi.
Meanwhile, a senior official from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), who attended the NCAP meeting on June 12, said, “At the moment, all the cities have been asked to focus on their clean air action plans with the existing funds available to them. We are assisting the ministry in submitting the quarterly reports of the progress in these cities which will be further assessed by them, and the funds will be provided to urban local bodies, municipal corporations and other state departments engaged in improving air quality in these non-attainment cities.”
“To ensure that blue skies become permanent, cities should be certain of their short, medium and long-term air pollution reduction goals. State and municipal budgets also need to reflect planned expenditure on air pollution mitigation,” said Tanushree Ganguly, programme associate, Council on Energy, Environment and Water.