Skip to main content

How the Union budget defines development, deals with environmental crisis


By IMPRI Team
On 1st February 2022, the Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for the Financial Year 2022-23 and allocated Rs 3,030 crore to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, higher than last year’s allocation of Rs 2520 crores. The Finance Minister also identified Climate Change as one of the strongest negative externalities that affect India and other countries. She emphasized the need for mindful and deliberate utilisation instead of mindless destructive consumption.
To delve deeper into the topic and gain detailed understanding of the same, the IMPRI Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) organised a panel discussion on ‘The Environment and Union Budget’. The discussion was organized under #WebPolicyTalk series The State of the Environment- #PlanetTalks.
The discussion had an esteemed panel of eminent professors and scholars consisting of Ashish Kothari, Founder-member, Kalpavriksh, Pune, Dr Madhu Verma, Chief Economist, World Resources Institute (WRI), New Delhi, Debadityo Sinha, Senior Resident Fellow and Lead, Climate and Ecosystems, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, New Delhi, Dr Sharachchandra Lele, Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Policy and Governance, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE, Bengaluru, Soumya Dutta, Co-convener, South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis (SAPACC), VR Raman, National Convenor, Public Health Resource Network; Policy Advisor, WaterAid India.
The discussion started with Ashish Kothari thanking the IMPRI team and panelists for putting together and participating in the discussion on such a pertinent topic. Mr Kothari pointed out that there are three main aspects that one needs to keep in mind while analysing the budgetary allocations for the environment. These are direct allocations, such as the increase in the total outlay to MOEFCC, which is a mere 0.8% of the total budgetary outlay. He recalled a speech given by our former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on the need to develop resources to deal with the environmental implications of the new economic policies. India significantly lacks in such resources.
Moreover, the Union Budget also slashed the budgetary allocation for the statutory body Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), which works for the air quality management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas, from 20 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 17 crore this fiscal year.
The second aspect is the indirect allocations oriented towards the environment in the fields of energy, environment, etc. The third aspect is the allocation towards the sectors that deal with the implications of the environment. In this year’s budget, the maximum allocation has been towards building infrastructure. We also need to look at the implications of these allocations on women, Dalits, forest dwellers and other marginalised communities to get a more intersectional approach to truly understand the implications of the budget. Mr. Kothari expressed his concern about the fact that several key terms such as ecology, environment, pollutions, forests, nature, wildlife, and biodiversity were not a part of the budget speech, reflective of the level of seriousness of the government.

Critical Analysis of Budget from an Environmental Perspective

Moving on to the panel discussion, Mr Kothari asked the panelists to reflect on their significant observations of the budget. Debadityo Sinha pointed out a significant push for sectors such as textile and food production, roads, coast and ocean development. The FM allocated a sum of Rs 650 crore for the Deep Ocean Mission, as against Rs 150 crore allocated in the revised estimates of the previous year. The National Coastal Mission too saw an increase in its budgetary allocation. The focus has been laid on the Lakshadweep and Andaman Islands.
The budget for research on the environment saw a hike as well. Even though the government has increased its spending on several environmental domains, they are minuscule in terms of the budgetary allocations made to other sectors and the urgent demand of climate crisis. No specific focus has been laid on the conservational aspect.

Development and Sustainability Go Hand-in-Hand

Dr Madhu Verma discussed how the Budget 2022-23 has been given the name of “booster budget” but the boost has not been given to all the sectors. On one hand, one can observe an increase in the value given to ‘Clean India’, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’. On the other hand, the budgetary allocation required to meet India’s commitments and targets at the international level to deal with the environmental crisis are insufficient.
She further elucidated on 2022 being announced as the ‘International Year of Millets’ and its ecological and economic benefits. Models of states such as Orissa, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh have shown the connection between millets and small farmers. It would certainly help in reviving traditions, practices and providing livelihood opportunities.
Dr Verma was, however, expecting more support for natural and organic farming. The budget may have load emphasis on organic farming, but more incentives and safety mechanisms are required as reaping the monetary benefits of organic farming takes longer. She believes that the interventions need to be holistic. On the face of it, the Budget might seem to have certain positive aspects, but the details are certainly missing. She looks forward to wildlife conservation receiving more attention and getting the focus it deserves. She emphasized nature being the base of development and the need to stop looking at development and conservation as opposing forces.

Mere Allocation of Funds not Sufficient

Dr Sharachchandra Lele shared his insights on the emphasis given to infrastructure development. He exclaimed that only a minor portion of it is “semi green”. According to him, the renewable energy transition model that the FM talked about is no different from the non-renewable energy economy model. In terms of structure, there isn’t any significant difference between the two. Hence, it is essentially a capitalist model of transition and any kind of scheme or subsidy introduced will get redistributed.
Any government has three tools at its disposal for effective the implementation of schemes- fiscal, administrative, and legal tools. The budget is a fiscal tool of the government. Merely allocating funds and not laying focus on the administrative and legal domain will not produce any positive outcomes. Higher funds alone, therefore, do not ensure anything, unless significant changes are made to structure and functioning as well.
For instance, when we talk about the energy sectors, we talk about subsidies, it is imperative to investigate the question of who is actually receiving the energy and availing subsidy benefits. There has been little support for discount improvements. There have been no talks about demand side management either.

Budget 2022 and its Underlying Hypocrisy

For Soumya Dutta, the significant aspect of the budget is its hypocrisy. On one hand, the FM called climate change the greatest risk, on the other hand, we saw a budgetary push for high emission and high energy sectors. The Ministry for Civil Aviation, which is one of the major polluters, was allocated RS. 10,667 crores, more than thrice of what the MOEFCC was allocated. Road infrastructure projects too saw a major hike in funds, which would mainly go to NHAI and not the development of village roads. Several important angles such as air quality, disaster resilience, environmental sanitation, and eradication of manual scavenging have not been given much consideration.
Building on the three key aspects for analysing the environmental budget by Mr. Kothari, Soumya Dutta talked about the sectors connected to the environment. Air pollution has become a major concern over the last 5-6 years and has reduced the life spans by 6-7 years in India, especially in the metropolitan cities. An efficient social infrastructure is a must to deal with the issue. Encouraging electrical public transport could have gone a long way. Rather than making high investments in high pollution and high emission infrastructure, efforts should have been put into developing climate connected infrastructure.
With an increasing risk of climate catastrophe, disasters, change in rainfall and cold spans, risk reduction is increasingly becoming important, which is also something that has been completely ignored in the budget. A mere Rs 30 crore is not sufficient for a population of 1.3 billion. What the budget is claiming to do, is not actually being done. Certain aspects of the budget such as Vande Bharat Mission have the potential to do well. Giving the example of Delhi, where there has not been any increase in the number of buses and more focus is laid on the metro and is not only responsible for high emissions but is also for a more elite population, Mr Datta talked about the urgency and need to give more attention to the development of an efficient and cheap public transport.
VR Raman expounded on the absence of an integrated action plan for addressing air pollution, which is a major environmental concern. He further elaborated on the need for an effective NCAP program to prevent air pollution. While the budget did lay emphasis on climate action, climate disaster prevention was largely ignored. As per VR Raman, the hikes in budget to meet the climate action targets and deal with environmental concerns are nominal. Every year, funds are allocated to deal with the issue of manual scavenging, however, not much data is available on the ground realities. People working for environmental sanitation are environmental soldiers and yet no plan to build their lives has been talked about.

The Way Forward

Following an engaging and fruitful discussion, Mr Kothari opened the floor for questions. Participants gave some interesting insights, reflections, comments and raised quite relevant questions on a variety of themes such as the impact of climate change on women and other marginalised communities, electrified public transport, sovereign green bonds, etc.
Moving towards the end of the panel discussion, The Chair, Mr Kothari asked the panelists to give their final remarks. While Dr Madhu Verma called for greater involvement of the private sector in dealing with environmental issues, Soumya Dutta, held a contradicting view to that of Dr Verma. He emphasized the need to reclaim corporate initiative to public ownership and profits under public regulation. The panelists criticised the approached of the present government in dealing with the environmental crisis and on a contrary the definition of “development”.
Dr Sharachchandra Lele talked about how governments focus more on the number of projects they complete than their environmental implications. VR Raman called for a proper understanding of proper rules, regulations and policies and their implications for the environment. The IMPRI team then concluded the event by delivering a final vote of thanks to all the panelists for participating in the discussion and sharing their valuable insights.

Comments

TRENDING

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report