India’s coasts in danger, finds Parliamentary panel: MoEF&CC depended on World Bank funds, facing massive cuts

National Coastal Mission budget cut from Rs 723 crore in proposal to just Rs 12.50 crore in allocation

By Raju Sajwan
Published: Tuesday 21 March 2023

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has drawn flak from the Parliamentary Standing Committee after it found the National Coastal Mission is in limbo. The mission has faced a drastic budget cut following the rejection of a project funded by the World Bank. 

The Standing Committee submitted a report in the Parliament on the Demands for Grants (2023-24) by MoEF&CC. 

Read more: Coastal crisis: It’s a race against time, and tide, for those living in Odisha’s coastal villages; here’s why

The Parliamentary Committee noted a drastic budget cut under the National Coastal Mission, the report said. In the BE for the financial year 2022-23, Rs 723.6 crore was proposed for the national coastal management programme, but the Revised Estimate (RE) reduced it to just Rs 4 crore. 

The new Budget 2023-2023 also allocated the mission just Rs 12.50 crore. The reason for the reduced budget was the rejection of EAPENCORE project, which is funded by the World Bank, the ministry told the panel. 

MoEF&CC had demanded Rs 723.6 crore for the programme under the assumption that EAPENCORE wll be approved by the World Bank, it told the Standing Committee. However, the World Bank later withdrew the offer due to an administrative reason, the report said.  

The Committee is constrained to highlight the unpreparedness of the ministry, which is manifested in the fact that it depended on financial resources under the coastal mission from an outside agency, the panel said. The setback has left the implementation of the MoEF&CC’s initiatives in the “loom”, it added.

The Standing Committee said:

If resources are not made available timely, then the vast coastline of the country, the population dependent on it as well as the fragile coastal ecosystem shall face the brunt. The Committee, therefore strongly recommends the ministry to initiate a strategy and raise the deficit funds, either through the Ministry of Finance or by reaching out to other such agencies.

Budget reduced by 19 per cent

The panel also expressed displeasure at the 19 per cent reduction in the estimated and revised budget for 2022-23. MoEF&CC was allocated Rs 3,030 crore, but it was reduced to Rs 2,478 crore in the revised estimated budget, the report said.  

Read more: Coral breach: A silent, catastrophic invasion has happened in the Gulf of Mannar; here is how

Although the allocation in the estimated budget for 2023-24 is Rs 3,079.40 crore, which is higher than the revised estimate for 2022-23. However, it is similar to the BE 2022-23 allocation of Rs 3,030 crore.

Climate impact on coastal regions

The coastal areas of India are facing major effects of climate impact. About 2,318 kilometres of India’s east and west coasts are facing erosion.

In April 2022, in response to a question asked in Parliament, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh had said West Bengal is facing the maximum erosion. Out of total 534.34 kilometres of coastal area in the state, 323.07 km is affected by erosion. 

After this, 56.2 per cent of the coastal area is affected in Puducherry. 46.4 per cent (275.33 km) in Kerala and 42.7 per cent (422.94 km) in Tamil Nadu are prone to erosion. At such a time, programmes like the coastal mission are very important. 

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