Rs 2,217 crore has been allocated for pollution control in 42 cities with population above 1 million
NEW DELHI: Forty-two million-plus population cities will get additional Rs 2,217 crore for air pollution management in next financial year with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her budget presentation on Monday announcing a slew of measures as part of the Centre’s urban cleanliness mission.
This proposed allocation will be in addition to what the Centre has earmarked for the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) under the environment ministry.
Besides, the finance minister proposed multiple schemes under different ministries such as hydrogen energy mission, urban mobility, voluntary vehicle scrapping policy, expansion of beneficiaries under ‘Ujjwala’ scheme and giving boost to renewable energy which would collectively go a long way in reducing India’s carbon footprints and making air and overall environment cleaner.
Though the total budget of the environment ministry has been slashed from Rs 3,100 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 2,870 crore for next financial year, the fund for other schemes would come from other ministries such as transport, new and renewable energy, and housing and urban affairs. The newly constituted Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and adjoining areas has been allocated Rs 20 crore under the environment ministry budget. The amount will be used in creating basic infrastructure for functioning of the Commission.
On proposal to have a separate voluntary scrapping policy, Sitharaman said, “This will help in encouraging fuel-efficient, environment friendly vehicles, thereby reducing vehicular pollution and oil import bill. Vehicles would undergo fitness tests in automated fitness centres after 20 years in case of personal vehicles, and after 15 years in case of commercial vehicles.”
Under urban infrastructure, the minister proposed to strengthen public transport through expansion of metro rail network and augmentation of city bus service. A new scheme at the cost of Rs 18,000 crores will support augmentation of public bus transport services through operation of over 20,000 buses in urban areas. These steps along with use of ‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ under metro rail systems will help in reducing private vehicles on roads and thereby cutting vehicular emissions in cities.
“Ujjwala scheme which has benefited eight crores households will be extended to cover one crore more beneficiaries,” said the minister. The scheme, which aims to provide concessional LPG connections to poor families, will increase the usage of cleaner fuel and would help in reducing health disorders, air pollution and deforestation.