The Centre on Friday increased the allocation for Environment Ministry from last fiscal by 10.4 per cent to Rs 2,954.72 crore for 2019-20 in what was termed as a "green budget" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with several initiatives for promoting electric vehicles, reducing air pollution and encouraging afforestation.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her first Budget speech, allocated Rs 460 crore for pollution control schemes including National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) with a vision for "pollution-free India with green Mother Earth and blue skies".
The revised budget for pollution control schemes in the last fiscal was a mere Rs five crore.
The finance minister proposed lowering of the GST on electric vehicles (EVs) from 12 to five per cent.
Also to make them affordable to consumers, the government will provide additional income tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on the interest paid on the loans taken to purchase EVs, Ms Sitharaman said.
Her announcement comes close on the heels of Niti Aayog proposing to migrate to full electric vehicles for two-wheelers of engine capacity of up to 150 cc and three-wheelers by 2023 and 2025 respectively.
The finance minister said that Rs 10,000 crore has already been approved on April 1, 2019, to encourage faster adoption of EVs in the country under the FAME II scheme, which aims to encourage faster adoption of EVs by right incentives and charging infrastructure.
On increasing green cover, she said that besides using funds available under various schemes, the government will explore the possibility of using additional funds available under the compensatory afforestation fund management and planning authority (CAMPA).
Talking about clean energy, she said the government will use the LED bulb mission to promote the use of solar stoves and battery chargers in the country.
"For good quality of life and ease of living, maintaining a cleaner environment and ensuring sustainable energy use is vital... 35 crore LED bulbs have been distributed under UJALA Yojana leading to cost saving of Rs 18,341 crore annually," Ms Sitharaman said.
The minister also proposed to expand the Swachh Bharat Mission to undertake sustainable solid waste management in every village.
"We must not only sustain the behavioural change seen in people but also harness the latest technologies available to transform waste into energy. I now propose to expand the Swachh Bharat Mission to undertake sustainable solid waste management in every village," she said.
In this year's budget, Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for pollution abatement, compared to Rs 20 crore allocated last year, under which funding to five State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) for ongoing and new projects under assistance for Abatement of Pollution is envisaged.
In a televised address after the Union Budget was tabled in parliament, PM Modi said it is a "green budget" which focuses on the environment and pitches for green and clean energy and transportation needs.
The budgetary allocation for National Mission for Green India has been raised from Rs 210 crore in last financial year to Rs 240 crore this time with national afforestation programme alone being allotted Rs 179 crore, higher than last year's amount of Rs 159 crore.
In the wildlife arena, the government-initiated projects -- Project Tiger and Project Elephant -- saw no change in their allocation compared to last year.
The fiscal's allocation of Rs 350 crore for Project Tiger, an initiative for conserving the wildcats, and Rs 30 crore for Project Elephant, which was launched to conserve the jumbos across the country, remains unchanged for 2019-20.
The budget for National Coastal Mission, however saw a sharp decline of Rs 35 crore with the government allotting it Rs 95 crore for the current financial year compared to Rs 130 crore allotted to it in the last fiscal.
Under the National Coastal Mission, the Environment Ministry is responsible to ensure livelihood security of coastal communities including fisher folks, to conserve, protect the coastal stretches and to promote sustainable development based on scientific principles.
A World Bank assisted Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project is implemented in the coastal States and Union Territories.
The budgetary allocation for statutory and regulatory bodies has also been reduced from Rs 166.42 crore last year to Rs 147 crore this year.
At Rs 100 crore, the 2019-20 allocation came down by Rs 14.4 crore for the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the central pollution watchdog. The revised allocation for the year 2018-19 was 114.42 crore.
The government, however, raised the allocation for the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the Ministry for tiger conservation, to Rs 10 crore for 2019-20 from Rs 9 crore last fiscal.
In the interim budget presented earlier this year, the ministry's outlay was pegged at Rs 3,111 crore.
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