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Where does Environment & Climate Change stand in Budget 2020?

Allocation for Environment and Climate Change purpose is to be Rs.4400 crore for 2020-21.
  • Proposed to advise the utilities to close the running old thermal power plants with carbon emission above the pre-set norms.
  • States that are formulating and implementing plans for ensuring cleaner air in cities above one million to be encouraged.
  • PM launched Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) with Secretariat in Delhi. Second such international initiative after International Solar Alliance.
By Elsie Gabriel

Delivering her second budget speech Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman strongly announced that pollution continues to be a matter of concern in our cities. To takkle the deteriorating air quality in large cities, the government is set to promote states that are working towards cleaner air in cities with a population of one million with massive budget allocation.

The Union Budget allocated ₹4,400 crores for National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) for the year 2020-21. This is nearly ten times more than last year’s allocation of ₹460 crores for the said programme.

The NCAP is a time-bound national level strategy to fight air pollution launched a year ago in January 2019. The Centre has fixed a target of reducing air pollution by 20-30% from the current level in 102 cities across the country by 2024 under the plan. Agricultural residue burning and construction and demolition waste were sited as the main cause of air pollution.

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman departs from North Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House, along with the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur and the senior officials to present the General Budget 2019-20, in New Delhi on February 01, 2020.

Good news is that Renewable Energy receives a bigger spotlight in Union Budget 2020.

Detailing the plans for environment and climate change in the Budget 2020 speech, Sitharaman outlined, “In large cities having population above one million, polluted air is a matter of concern. The government proposes to encourage such States that are formulating and implementing plans for ensuring cleaner air in cities above one million. The Ministry would notify parameters for the incentives of Environment, Forests and Climate change. Allocation for this purpose is 4400 crore for 2020-2021.”

Highlighting the Prime Minister’s international initiative like Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and International Solar Alliance, Sitharaman said that collaboration like these would help strengthen global collaboration to address several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Climate Change and environmental degradation are one of the most intensive threats that the world is facing. Galloping temperatures, growing incidents and intensity of extreme weather events like floods, tsunami’s, droughts and hurricane’s,the threat of extinction of a million species, the destruction of forests, the warming of oceans and the disruption of ecosystem services that sustain life on the planet are among the top risks.

Climate change is no longer something in the future.
Out of the 17 SDGs that have a direct relation to climate , the most vital targets are namely SDG 6
(Clean Water & Sanitation), SDG 7 (Clean & Affordable Energy), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities & Communities) and SDG 13 (Climate Change). If 2030 which is a decade away is the aim to achieve the SDGs, much more stringent efforts would have to be implemented as part of budgetary and non-budgetary interventions to make steady yearly progress.

Climate change made a prominence in the budget speech after quite a few years, with reiterations to India’s commitment to the international Paris Agreement. The government has shown its inclination towards fulfilling India’s NDC targets with implementation beginning from January 2021. Now, commitments as action to be executed in various sectors by the Departments and Ministries concerned through the normal budgeting process will be yet to be seen.
One is still waiting for the exact plans and expenditure outlines of Climate resilience strategies and action, mitigation, adaptive capacity to climate hazards which should be the prime focus, with India being surrounded by oceans on three sides as a peninsular country and Ocean levels rising?

(The writer is an award winning Author, environmentalist,climate change advocate, connecting the anthropological discoveries to the globe. An advanced PADI scuba diver,with expertise in Environment law and Mass Communications, Researching on Climate change and ocean communities.)

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