The Environment Ministry got an increase of nearly 19 per cent in its budgetary allocation for the next fiscal even as environmental bodies said that Union Budget has failed to acknowledge the problem of pollution.
The Union Budget proposed an allocation of Rs 2,675.42 crore for the Environment Ministry for 2017-18 in comparison to last fiscal where it was alloted Rs 2,250.34 crore, an increase of 18.88 per cent. The Revised allocation for 2016-17 was however Rs 2,327.51 crore.
The Project Tiger, which was an initiative for conserving the wildcats however, witnessed a decrease in its budget allocation for 2017-18 where it was Rs 345 crore. In 2016-17, the budget allocation was Rs 375 crore.
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The Project Elephant, which was also launched to conserve the jumbos across the country, got an increase in its allocation in 2017-18 with Rs 27.50 crore in comparison to last fiscal when it was alloted Rs 25 crore.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), which is a statutory body under the Ministry for tiger conservation was allocated a sum of Rs 8.15 in 2017-18. The Budgetary allocation for 2016-17 for NTCA was Rs 5 crore while the revised allocation for the same period was Rs 6.50 crore.
The Union Budget presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today allocated Rs 74.30 crore for Central Pollution Control Board for 2017-18 while in 2016-17, the allocation for the central pollution watchdog was Rs 70.15 for 2016-17.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that apart from a historic first in incorporating the Railway Budget, the Union Budget of 2017 is a crucial one for the NDA government as it comes after the demonetisation exercise.
“The Budget has failed to even acknowledge the problem of pollution, which simply indicates that environment is not a priority concern for this regime. While the budgetary allocation for rural employment, agricultural insurance and farm ponds etc seems to be good, the challenge would be implementation,” CSE experts said.
Another green body TERI said that the Union Budget is a continuation of the foundation built in last year’s Budget to ‘transform’ India but while moving in the right direction in some key areas, stops short in others.
“The model law on contract farming, if adopted by the states, can contribute to the creation of farm infrastructure, in improving the efficiency in the use of land and other inputs for agriculture and in reducing waste through the agricultural value chain.
“The Government would need to address issues related to aggravated environmental stress induced by intensive input, including water use and monoculture that can potentially result from this proposed law,” TERI said in a statement.
It said that the Budget has “refrained” from stepping up allocations towards meeting India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) commitments on renewable energy, energy efficiency and additional carbon sequestration through the forestry sector.
“Our estimates suggest that the target of additional 2.5-3.0 billion tons of carbon sequestration alone will require an annual investment of about Rs 1 lakh crores,” TERI said.