Pollution

Interim Budget 2019: All that it had for the environment

Although not at all promising, here is a list of announcements Piyush Goyal made towards bettering people’s health and the living world

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Friday 01 February 2019
Budget 2019
Image: Getty Images Image: Getty Images

The Narendra Modi government, months before the 2019 General Elections, sought a vote-on-account from Lok Sabha for the remainder of its term. Union Minister Piyush Goya, while standing in for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, made the following promises and announcements for the environmental sector:

  • Under Saubhagya Scheme or Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, the government said it provided free-electricity connections to almost every household and by March 2019, “all willing families” will get electricity connection.
  • Goyal said urgent action is needed to increase hydrocarbon production to reduce imports and the BJP-led government is in the process of implementing certain recommendations by a high-level inter-ministerial committee. The recommendations include transforming the system of bidding for exploration and changing from revenue sharing to exploration programme for Category II and III basins.
  • Piyush Goyal also announced setting up of the 22nd AIIMS in Haryana
  • To provide an assured income support to the small and marginal farmers, the government launched ‘Pradhan Mantri KIsan SAmman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)’. Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land of up to 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs 6,000 per year. This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 each. Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from this. The programme would be made effective from December 1, 2018, and the first instalment for the period up to 31st March 2019 would be paid during this year itself. This programme will entail an annual expenditure of Rs 75,000 crore.
  • The allocation for Rashtriya Gokul Mission has been increased to Rs 750 crore in the current year.
  • The Budget speech also the setting up of ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ to upscale sustainable genetic upgradation of cow resources and to enhance production and productivity of cows
  • The government proposed to provide the benefit of 2 per cent interest subvention to farmers pursuing activities of animal husbandry and fisheries, who avail loan through Kisan Credit Card. Further, in case of timely repayment of loan, they will also get an additional 3 per cent interest subvention.
  • They also promised that all farmers affected by severe natural calamities, where assistance is provided from National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), will be provided the benefit of interest subvention of 2 per cent and prompt repayment incentive of 3 per cent for the entire period of rescheduling of their loans.
  • Under Anganwadi and Asha Yojana honorarium has been enhanced by about 50 per cent for all categories of workers.
  • The Union government also proposed to launch ‘Pradhan Mantri Shram-Yogi Maandhan’ for workers in the unorganised sector with monthly income up to Rs 15,000. This pension scheme shall provide them an assured monthly pension of Rs 3,000 from the age of 60 years on a monthly contribution of a small affordable amount during their working age.
  • The government claimed that it has provided six crore of the aimed eight crore free LPG connections under the Ujjwala Yojana and that the remaining will be given the connections by next year.

Most of the environmental issues — pollution free nation, cleaning rivers, protecting the coastline, self-sufficiency in food and good health infrastructure — only found a mention in the ‘vision for the next decade’ section of Goyal’s speech. None of these had any tangible targets or action plans.

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