Skip to main content

Union budget "fails to inspire" farmers, climate victims, Ganga rejuvenation, Himalayas

By Our Representative
Senior environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar, in a new analysis, has taken strong exception to the Narendra Modi government bringing down allocation for the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is down 15% to Rs 1681.6 crores in 2015-16, compared with the amount budgeted for the current fiscal year.
Thakkar, who is with the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), has said the drastic cut has happened despite finance minister Arun Jaitley saying in his budget speech: “Environmental degradation hurts the poor more than others.”
Things have gone to such an extent, according to Thakkar, that during an interaction with senior officials of the Central Pollution Control Board, one of the officers told Leo Saldanha, a top environmental expert, that “the budget for the entire CPCB was equal to the cost of a Delhi Metro pillar: Rs. 50 crores.”
Saldanha has been quoted as saying, “ He wasn’t exactly right. Perhaps it’s the cost of two Metro pillars. But we get the point.”
Thakkar has further said, the allocation for Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been drastically pushed down to Rs 4,232.43 crore, comprising of Rs 3,607 crore planned and Rs 625 crore non-plan budget. This is against Rs 13,237 crore planned and Rs 600 crore non-planned budget for 2014-15, a total reduction of Rs 9630 crore.
Comments the environmentalist, “Part of this reduction is supposed to be taken care of by the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations for greater devolution to states, but it is not clear how it can substitute the schemes like the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme or the National Projects Scheme that were granting funds to specific projects.”
Further pointing out that the farmers, too, have got a raw deal in budget, Thakkar said, the finance minister reiterated the NDA government's “commitment to farmers” and yet “the budget does not have a lot to show that commitment. The Agriculture Ministry’s budget has been reduced by 14.34% compared to the revised estimates. Further, the allocation for the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries is reduced by Rs 683 crore.”
As for the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, a “new programme” of the Modi government under Ministry of Agriculture, aimed at ensuring access to water to every farm (har khet ko pani), the environmentalist says, it has been allocated Rs 5,300 crore, including allocation for watershed programme and Rs 1,800 crore for the micro irrigation.
“As against that, the allocation for Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana has seen a huge cut from Rs 9,954 crore Budget allocation in 2014-15 to Rs 4,500 crore in 2015-16”, he adds.
Coming to the plan to “rejuvenate Ganga”, the environmentalist believes, “We have yet to see any credible action on this front. The budget allocates Rs 2,100 crore to Namami Gange (Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission) for 2015-16, slightly up from Rs 2037 crore allocated in the 2014-15 budget.”
But he comments, “The trouble is the government has no road map for rejuvenating Ganga, except some business as usual urban and industrial effluent control proposals.”
In fact, Thakkar says, “Such proposals have been going on for 30 years without any impact and the new proposals are likely to meet the same fate since they signify no break from the past. The money for this scheme is coming from clean energy cess, but it is not clear if this is the best use of that money. The clean energy cess fund should not be used for such business as usual projects, but for some significantly people-centered efforts that help those who suffer the impacts of climate change.”
“It is clear that the budget 2015-16 is not inspiring confidence that any action keeping the long term interests of farmers, water resources, rivers, Himalayas, climate victims or environment is on the horizon”, he concludes.

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

TN woman's No Caste, No Religion struggle 'follows' ideals of Marx, Ambedkar, Periyar

By Sheshu Babu*
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining 'No Caste, No Religion' certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing 'humanity', 'agnostic' , 'secular' or 'non-religious' in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Govt of India 'moves' to hold Assam-type foreigners' tribunals across India, warns report

Counterview Desk
A People’s Tribunal on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has warned in its interim jury report that two recent notifications of the Government of India may lay down the groundwork for triggering an NRC process in different parts of the country, pointing towards recent moves towards this.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk
“Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

New sample suggests high pollution off Vadodara effluent channel, 'requires' action

Counterview Desk 
Gujarat’s top environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has sharply criticized the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s (GPCB’s) “on-serious, casual letter” dated September 5, which allegedly suggests that the top state state agency does not favour taking any action Central Gujarat’s effluent treatment plant, Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd (VECL).