Environmental Pollution: Finally the environment got a chance in the budget!

New Delhi: After the outbreak of Corona epidemic, the first budget of the Government of India was announced yesterday. Obviously, there were high expectations from the budget and some big decisions were also awaited.

Looking at the fight against environmental protection and climate change, the wait was for a budget in which these subjects should be given priority and the hitherto neglected public health sector would get priority.

After the budget today it is a matter of satisfaction that the government has shown sensitivity on all these subjects and has given priority.

With an allocation of Rs 2,23,846 in the health sector, an increase of 137 per cent has been announced in the budget over the previous year, which is unprecedented. Also, in the energy sector, this sector, which is famous for its contribution to air pollution, has also focused on discom revival and stressed assets. The Union budget talks about renewables to hydrogen and even giving consumers the option to choose their own power company. This will increase competition among power distribution companies and directly benefit consumers.

Further, while the Solar Energy Corporation received Rs 1,000 crore, the Renewable Energy Development Agency received a budget of Rs 1,500 crore.

Air pollution is evident in India. To deal with this problem, it has been decided to provide an amount of Rs 2,217 crore for 42 urban centers with a population of more than 10 lakh. Not only this, the government has also talked about a voluntary vehicle scrapping policy to remove old and unsuitable vehicles to tackle pollution caused by vehicles.

On the lines of global trends, it has also been decided to start a large hydrogen energy mission in 2021-22.

Responding to this Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends, says, “There are many signs in the budget that indicate that the budget presented by the central government is in line with global trends. The announcement of a new policy on green hydrogen in India to be released soon is highly welcome. Germany and many other countries of the European Union have already formulated an ambitious green hydrogen policy. Even countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Australia, traditionally considered backward in climate action, have taken steps towards green hydrogen. Reduction in funds allocated for coal mining in the budget is also a good sign. This time the budget has been cut by 30% in the money allocated for coal mining compared to the previous budget. “

But according to IEEFA Senior Energy Economist, Vibhuti Garg, this budget is mixed in terms of environmental provisions. She says, “While the government has announced more funding for SECI and IREDA in the energy sector, it has increased the custom duty on solar lanterns and inverters to strengthen domestic manufacturing.” Also announced to launch the National Hydrogen Mission. But there is no mention of any plan to close the coal power plants which are not working efficiently in the budget. ”

Vibhuti further says, “While funds have been allocated to strengthen public bus service in the transport sector, there is no mention of whether those vehicles will be electric or not.”

Further, about public transport, Dr. OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India, says, “Manufacturing and inclusive development is one of the six pillars of the budget 2021-22. Public transport is preferred in this. Allocation of Rs 18000 crore for public transport buses in urban areas, 100% electrification of broad gauge rail tracks and reduction of logistic cost of railways by 2030 and introduction of metro light and metro neo services for small towns. The implementation of the announcement will change the way people move. This will improve our air quality, reduce road jam and create a uniform urban structure for the future. ”

“During the budget speech, the Finance Minister has reiterated his promise of solar energy to India. Along with the much-needed additional capital in the Solar Energy Corporation of India and the Indian Renewable Development Agency, significant steps have been taken to implement this promise. It is, ”says Madhura Joshi, head of energy access and climate policy consultant in the India program of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Meteor Kelkar Khasi , director of the Climate Branch of WRI India , is excited to hear the announcement about Green Hydrogen . She says , ” This is not only necessary for decarbonizing heavy industries like steel and cement, but it is also important for a clean electric mobility that does not depend on rare minerals. Further , Meteor said on Indian Railways’ announcement to support the Dedicated Freight Corridor to reduce the logistics cost of railways , ” It is also a foresighted step in terms of environmental protection , as India’s economy is growing with increased freight By bringing the road from rail to rail, pollution will be reduced and dependence on oil will also be reduced significantly. “

Dr. Ajay Singh Nagpure, Associate of Meteor and Director of Air Quality Branch at WRI India , says , ” Budget 2021-22 has seen a decrease in funds allocated for improving air quality against Rs 4400 crore allocated in the year 2020. The funds released in relation to last year were largely not spent by the local urban units. This year, the collective efforts made by states and cities for capacity development will help in utilizing the funds in an efficient manner and it will also be easy to land the changes. “

Overall, if it is said, the environment has definitely got a chance in this budget. Yes, there is no doubt that there is still a lot to do, but from the perspective of the environment, these positive decisions must be welcomed.