Union Budget 2020 and clean air: Air quality in India has been a major cause of concern, especially since November 2017, when the post-Diwali air quality caused an air emergency situation in the National Capital.
Budget India 2020 and clean air: During her speech for the Union Budget of financial year 2020-21, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about the need for clean air, especially in large cities having population above 10 lakh. With this, she announced that the government is proposing to encourage those states which formulate and implement plans for cleaner air in cities with more than 10 lakh people. For this purpose, the government has earmarked Rs 4,400 crore for FY 2020-21.
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The parameters for the incentives will be released by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change later, she said.
Air quality in India has been a major cause of concern, especially since November 2017, when the post-Diwali air quality caused an air emergency situation in the National Capital. The particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10 levels were recorded at 999 micrograms per cubic metre, while the safe levels are considered to be 60 and 100 for the respective PM categories. Since then, the declining quality of air has been hotly debated in the public discourse.
Several reports have pointed out that air quality in India is bad enough that the lungs of even non-smoking people are being as damaged as those of smokers. The governments as well as the judiciary have been making efforts to tackle the serious issue. The Delhi government has twice launched the Odd-Even scheme, under which only half the cars can ply on the road on a particular day. Apart from this, the Punjab government incentivised farmers in the state to stop burning paddy straw, which was found to be a major cause behind the air pollution in NCR and surrounding areas. Moreover, the Supreme Court has also imposed timing for bursting crackers on Diwali for the past two years. However, all of these steps seem to have been to no avail, since the air quality in several areas across the country remained to be in a state of air emergency around Diwali 2019.
Keeping this in consideration, the announcement made by FM Sitharaman is highly important so as to provide a better quality of life to the citizens.