Green money

Financial institutions may soon lend a helping hand to the environment sector, says the Indian environment minister

 
Published: Monday 15 March 1999

if the ministry of environment and forests ( mef ) is to be believed, financial institutions may soon lend money to the environmental sector on a priority basis. At a meeting held recently, the Union minister for environment and forests, Suresh Prabhu, discussed the details of institutional financing for environmental projects with Bimal Jalan, the Reserve Bank of India ( rbi ) governor. For long, industries have been demanding soft loans from the government to set up pollution control equipment.

Representatives from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Housing and Urban Development Corporation, Industrial Development Bank of India, Industrial Credit and Investment Corportaion of India, Industrial Finance Corporation of India and State Bank of India also participated in the meeting. "The mef will set up study groups to work on the feasibility for providing easy loans to environmental projects," Prabhu said.

The meeting considered ways and means to finance adoption of environmentally-sound technologies, pollution control measures, afforestation and wasteland development. "The scope of financing and credit has to take cognisance of the scale of environmental degradation from economic and other human activity," Prabhu said. This was the first-ever meeting to discuss the process of lending to the environment sector, said V Anand, environment secretary, mef.

The minister indicated that the Budget may also provide additional incentives and concessions for improving the environment along with easing lending terms for the sector. Speaking to Down To Earth , Brian Robinson, chairperson, Environment Protection Authority, Australia, said: "Such steps will encourage cash-starved industries to opt for cleaner technologies and work towards protection of the environment."

Apart from these efforts, the mef is also planning to set up a clean environment technology mission. This was revealed by the environment minister while inaugurating the Symposium on Energy Optimisation and Clean Environment Technologies in New Delhi. Prabhu said the government would soon create a data bank in which all available technologies around the world can be accessed by the interested parties for improving the country's environment.

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