But key forest initiatives get paltry allocations, one as low as Rs 1 lakh
The allocation for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) was increased by nearly 33 per cent to Rs 2,250.34 crore. However, the mention was conspicuously absent from the finance minister’s budget speech. A closer look at the Budget document reveals allocations as low as Rs 1 lakh, as in the case of Green India Mission—National Afforestation Programme. Even the Rs 15 crore allocated to capacity building of forestry personnel is being seen as deficient to cover even the administrative costs of implementing the project.
Jaitley had allocated Rs 1,681.60 crore in the budget estimate 2015-2016 and had subsequently revised it to Rs 1,668.60 in the revised estimates.
The allocation for Project Tiger, one of the flagship wildlife programmes of the country—went up to Rs 295 crore, which is a whopping 116 per cent increase. In the current fiscal, it was Rs 136.46 crore, which was a 15 per cent decrease from the 2014-2015 fiscal at Rs.161.02 crore.
Similarly, Project Elephant saw an increase of 82.5 per cent, from Rs 13.70 crore in the current fiscal to Rs 25 crore for 2016-2017.
The move has been hailed by experts and enthusiasts. Shekhar Kumar Niraj, head, TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network said, “Though a welcome move, it is more important that the allocation should translate to action and the funds be spent in a timely fashion. We also need to focus on species other than tiger, elephant and keystone species.”
The plan outlay of Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change is Rs 2,000 crore of which Rs 1,000 crore is estimated to be generated from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF). After a landmark year for India and the world in climate change initiatives, the upcoming fiscal has allocated Rs 30 crore for Climate Change Action Plan and Rs 100 crore for National Adaption Fund for Climate Change.
However, the source of the funds and the details of allocations from the central government were all met under one slab—‘Amount met from National Clean Energy Fund’ as detailed under the Budget Provisions (net of receipts and recoveries) for the year 2016-2017. This is from the clean-energy cess that is presently levied on coal, peat lignite and other polluting sources of energy to finance and promote clean energy initiatives.
The Finance Minister renamed the Clean Energy Cess as Clean Environment Cess and has proposed to raise the cess on polluting sources of energy from the current Rs 200 a tonne to Rs 400 per tonne.
Several other allocations to the MoEFCC have also been made. The total plan allocation for Externally Aided Project (EAP) is Rs 290.99 crore, which includes Rs 15 crore for capacity building of Forestry Personnel, Rs 15 crore for Hazardous Substances Management, Rs 223.98 crore for National Costal Management Projects (NCMP), Rs 12 crore for Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement (BCRLIP) and Rs 25 crore for National River Conservation of Plan (NRCP) on Mula Mutha river in Pune.
Out of Rs 1,000 crore of NCEF, Rs 50 crore has been allocated for National Mission on Himalayan Studies, Rs 185 crore for Green India Mission: National Afforestation Programme, Rs 50 crore Intensification of Forest Management, Rs 100 crore for Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats, Rs 18 crore for Conservation of Mangroves and Corals, Rs 10 crore for Biosphere Reserves, Rs 60 crore for National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-System (NPCA), Rs 7 crore for National River Conservation Directorate and Rs 70 crore for National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), besides the Rs 320 crore allocated for Project Elephant and Project Tiger.
Rs 172.50 crore has been allocated for North Eastern Region to meet the mandatory requirement of 10 per cent and Rs 37.75 crore is allocated for the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan as per mandatory requirement of 2.2 per cent of the gross budgetary support.
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