New Delhi: In her first budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 2,954.72 crore for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) was given Rs 1,901.76 crore while the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) received Rs 13,056.24 crore.
Over the years, the budgetary allocation for MoES has increased only marginally by about 5.5 per cent while that for MoEFCC and MoST has increased by around 18 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.
Overall, the allocation for the three ministries is a meagre 0.64 per cent of the total budget. In the past too, this figure has hovered around 0.70 per cent.
As for a comparison with the figures in the interim budget, the final allocation for MoEFCC has dropped by Rs 221 crore, that of the MoST has increased by Rs 259 crore and allocation for the MoES has remained unchanged at Rs 1,901.76 crore.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
The MoEFCC, now headed by Prakash Javadekar, is the nodal agency for planning and overseeing the implementation of the country’s environmental and forest policies and programmes.
Its focus areas include the conservation of flora and fauna, the prevention and control of pollution, afforestation and river conservation while legislative measures like the National Forest Policy and the National Environment Policy guide its work.
Budgetary allocations for the ministry include funding to bodies such as the National Green Tribunal, Forest Survey of India (FSI), National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the Central Pollution Control Board and programmes and plans such as the National Coastal Management Programme, the Climate Change Action Plan and Project Tiger and Project Elephant.
Some of the biggest individual allotments have gone to the National Adaptation Fund (Rs 100 crore), National Mission for a Green India (Rs 240 crore) and Project Tiger (Rs 350 crore).
The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change was set up in 2015-16 with an aim to support activities that could mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.
The National Mission for a Green India aims to increase the country’s green cover in terms of both extent and quality and to also improve ecosystem services such as hydrological services and forest-based livelihoods.
However, according to a report titled ‘Performance of the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)’, allocations made in the past have been “grossly insufficient” as compared to committed liabilities.
Allocations, therefore, ought to be analysed relative to liabilities outlined and what needs to be done to further the aims of the plans and not as standalone figures.
Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Ministry of Science and Technology
The MoES and the MoST are currently held by Dr Harsh Vardhan. The former provides services in relation to weather, climate, oceans and hydrology, seismology and natural hazards and the latter formulates and administers laws and regulations relating to science and technology in India.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology in the country, is an agency of the MoES.
Overall, at Rs 1,901.76 crore, the allocation for MoES is more than the total expenditure incurred in 2017-18, i.e. Rs 1,541.47 crore and the revised budgetary allocation for 2018-19, i.e. Rs 1,800 crore. And about 50 per cent of the total allocation for MoES is towards meteorology.
The Department of Biotechnology, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) are part of the MoST. Among the three departments, at Rs 5,580 crore, DST has received the biggest allocation.