The Centre on Monday earmarked a sum of Rs 2,217 crore for tackling air pollution in 42 urban centres, even as it shrunk the budgetary allocation for the environment ministry from the last fiscal by nearly eight percent for 2021-22 While it has reduced the amount allocated to the climate change action plan by Rs 10 crore and to Project Tiger by Rs 50 crore, the amount for National Coastal Mission has been almost doubled from Rs 103 crore in the last fiscal to Rs 200 crore in 2021-22. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech, allocated Rs 2869.93 crore for the ministry, out of which Rs 470 crore were allotted to control pollution — Rs 10 crore more than the last budget.
In addition to this amount, the minister also announced a sum of Rs 2,217 crore for combating air pollution in 42 urban centres. To tackle the burgeoning problem of air pollution, I propose to provide an amount of Rs 2,217 crores for 42 urban centres with a million-plus population in this budget, Sitharaman said.
For the first time, a budget provision of Rs 20 crore has been made for the newly formed statutory body Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) for the national capital region and adjoining areas. The Rs 407 crore for 'Control of Pollution' includes financial assistance provided to pollution control Boards/Committees and funding to National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), launched in January 2019.
In the last budget session, the climate change action plan was allotted Rs 40 crore which has been reduced to Rs 30 crore for the year 2021-22. The budgetary allocation for National Mission for Green India has been reduced from Rs 311 crore in the last financial year to Rs 290 crore this time with the national afforestation programme alone being allotted Rs 235 crore, lower than last year's amount of Rs 246 crore.
In the area of wildlife conservation, the allocation for government-initiated projects — Project Tiger and Project Elephant — saw some changes, with the former getting Rs 50 crore less and the other being shrunk by Rs 2 crore. The allocation for Project Tiger saw a reduction of Rs 100 crore in two years. From Rs 350 crore allotted to it in 2019-20, it was reduced to Rs 300 crore in the last fiscal, and now the allocation stands at Rs 250 crore.
The budget for Project Elephant, which was launched to conserve jumbos across the country, has been reduced to Rs 33 crore from Rs 35 crore last year. The budget for the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the ministry responsible for tiger census and conservation of wild cats, saw a minor reduction of Rs 50 lakh from Rs 10.5 crore to Rs 10 crore.
The budget for the National Coastal Mission was nearly doubled with the government allotting it Rs 200 crore from Rs 103 crore allotted to it last year. In 2019-20, the NCM was allotted Rs 95 crore. Under the National Coastal Mission, the environment ministry is responsible for ensuring livelihood security of coastal communities, including fisher folks, conserving, protecting the coastal stretches and promoting sustainable development based on scientific principles.