Raising his concern over the rising air pollution, Girish Bapat, Blueair Director, West and South Asia Region on Friday said that it is crucial that the government allocate resources to a separate “Air Quality Management Fund” whose primary goal will be to protect the environment and human health in the upcoming Budget 2017. “There is no doubt that large parts of both rural and urban India are exposed to some of the highest pollutant levels in the world. According to reports, nearly 1.2 million deaths in India are caused by air pollution every year, causing economic losses to the tune of 3 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Looking at these alarming statistics, we conclude that it is high time the government of India takes a strong stand against air pollution,” he said.
“Under this fund, the government could identify and implement effective air pollution mitigation strategies such as, Improving Air Quality Measurement Technology which helps to gain comprehensive pollution data and increase public awareness,” he added. Secondly, the government can award grants to establish more Clean Air Research Centers that will focus on investigating the consequences of global climate change on regional air quality and overall health. Third, funds can be allocated to research projects to improve understanding on Indoor Air Quality which is deemed to be ten to hundred times more polluted than the air outside.
Narendra Modi government will be presenting Budget 2017 on February 1. Yesterday, Supreme Court dismissed the plea to change the Budget date from February 1. The Budget is special not only for the fact that it has been preponed but more importantly because it comes within months after Modi government’s massive demonetisation drive. Most analysts and economists expect Budget 2017 to be tax-payer friendly, especially given the pain that common man has faced after old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes ceased to be legal tender money.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) recommended holding of the Budget Session from January 31. The first part of the Budget Session will run till February 9. The 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate Rail Budget is going to end from this fiscal, with the Finance Ministry accepting Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s proposal to merge it with the General Budget.