Centre cuts pollution control budget, draws flak from experts

The centre’s decision to reduce the budget on pollution control by 50 per cent this year, has drawn criticism from environment experts who said while the nation reels under severe air pollution, it was shocking that the government has reduced its budgetary allocation

The interim budget presented by finance minister Piyush Goyal, on February 1, 2019, reduced the budget for pollution abatement from Rs 20 crores in the last fiscal to Rs 10 crores for 2019-20 and has not allocated any amount towards new and renewable energy, in a move that has drawn criticism from environmentalists and experts. The budget has also not changed the budgetary allocation for climate change action plan from the last year, by keeping it constant at Rs 40 crores.

Calling the budget a rhetoric, advocate and activist Gaurav Bansal said, “If there is no budget, how will the authorities tackle this problem? This budget is a rhetoric with elections in mind. They have failed to implement the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), by not giving any budget regarding it. They have reduced the 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.”

See also: Life expectancy of Delhiites can increase by three years, if air quality improves by 20-30 per cent: Study

Sharing the view, Priya Sreenivasan, a renewable energy expert at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said, “It appears to be an election-friendly budget. The renewable sector was awaiting a lot of clarity. 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 sufficient, nor is this year’s.

“Pollution and climate change are big issues. The government needs to have a look at the problem properly. Even the NCAP was launched without any budget allocation or framework, which should have been mentioned in the budget,” Polash Mukherjee, a research associate at the CSE said.

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, are important aspects of cleaning rivers and water bodies, which the budget could have addressed,” it said.

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