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Presenting the Budget for 2020-2021 on Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made several announcements for environment and climate change. The government allocated Rs 4,400 crore for the Clean Air policy, to be focused on cities that with a population of above 1 million.
Sitharaman added that India’s commitment towards tackling climate change, with respect to proposals as part of the Paris Agreement, will kick start in January 2021. “Our commitments as action will be executed in various sectors by the Departments/Ministries concerned through the normal budgeting process,” said Sitharaman.
Sitharaman also announced that old thermal power plants with emissions above prescribed norms will be advised to be closed down, and the land reclaimed put to alternative use.
"It's a terrible Budget for the environment. When you have only Rs 4,400 crore for pollution control and Rs 100 lakh crores for pollution creation, the country is doomed. How will industries and banks survive if enough is not done to protect ecosystems? 100 new airports and only 150 trains? Isn't that an environmental disaster?" questions Anand Pendharkar, ecologist and environmentalist, and CEO of SPROUTS Environment Trust.
Sitharaman assigned Rs 2,955 crores to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. This year, pollution control got a fresh budget of Rs 460 crores, which includes multiple initiatives like the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
“It's a good thing that money is being allocated towards efforts to address serious issues like air pollution. However, in the absence of any details at all, effective implementation of necessary action points and therefore, effectivity of the measures proposed, cannot be known at this stage,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor, Awaaz Foundation.