Union Budget Lacks a Definite Vision for the Environment

BeyondHeadlines News Desk

New Delhi: The union budget presented by the Finance Minister P Chidambaram today is disappointing as it has failed to address key environmental concerns of the nation. The Economic Survey 2013 released yesterday emphasises that INR 230000 crore is required to meet the targets under NAPCC, however this is not reflected in this budget.

The budget also fails to address the growing inequality in the energy/electricity delivery system in the country. The government missed the opportunity to provide stronger support to the renewable energy industry. Reintroducing Generation Based Incentive (GBI) for wind energy and the clean energy fund is positive; however, absence of specific economic measures like providing the status of priority lending sector to renewable energy is a major setback.

Union Budget Lacks a Definite Vision for the Environment

It’s also unfortunate that Finance Minister P Chidambaram completely ignored the recommendations of 12th Five Year Plan to address soil health crisis in India. He not only went silent on the fertiliser subsidy issue but also missed the opportunity to support ecological alternatives to rejuvenate the degraded soils. It’s widely accepted by one and all that the irrational fertiliser subsidy policy of the Government is leading to indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers, resulting in soil degradation. Also several policy documents including the 12th plan emphasized upon the need for supporting organic matter addition through ecological fertilisation practices to address the soil health crisis.  Neither of these were addressed in the budget.

While delivering the budget speech in 2011, then Finance Minister emphasised the need for addressing the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and promised support for ecological alternatives. In 2012, the Union Agriculture Minister announced in the Parliament that the Government is planning to reduce subsidy on chemical fertilisers and divert it into ecological alternatives. Since then no meaningful measures were taken by the Government.

Apart from the above FM also allocated more funds for food security and research in Agri-biotechnology today. Ironically this announcement comes on the National Science Day, which is being celebrated across the country on the theme ‘GM crops and Food security’. Last month the country witnessed a heightened debate around this theme with scientists from across the country, the right to food campaign and farmer unions strongly condemning the Ministry of Agriculture’s mindless promotion of GM crops as a necessity for achieving food security. “It is a travesty of truth and a cruel joke on our country’s poor where risky technologies like GM crops which pose a threat to human health, environment and farm livelihoods are being promoted by our government as solutions to malnourishment and food insecurity. It has been time and again proved that food security is not just about agricultural production and GM crops have no role in enhancing it [1].   We hope that our government will heed to reason and steer away from such technologies which are designed for corporate profits and invest in responsible biotechnologies which are both ecologically and socially sustainable” said Rajesh Krishnan, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace India.

The Economic survey released by the government yesterday substantiated it when it said that “While it may appear that the performance of the agriculture and allied sector has fallen short of the target, production has improved remarkably, growing twice as fast as population”.

Highlighting the need to steer away from such technologies which are only for corporate profits Greenpeace urged the central govt to invest in responsible biotechnologies which are both ecologically and socially sustainable”

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