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This article was first published 14 years ago  » Business » Environment ministry seeks Rs 2,200 cr

Environment ministry seeks Rs 2,200 cr

By Kirtika Suneja
February 15, 2010 11:30 IST
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ParliamentThe ministry of environment and forests has sought an outlay of Rs 2,200 crore (Rs 22 billion), a 17 per cent hike from Rs 1,880 crore (Rs 18.8 billion) in 2009-10, in the forthcoming Budget.

The increased outlay, the ministry says, will be used for river and lake cleaning  and pollution control.

"We will be happy if we get around Rs 2,200 crore (Rs 22 billion), though we don't expect much from this budget," environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh told Business Standard.

"Though the allocation was good this year, our existing budget had been cut by Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) to around Rs 1,600 crore because of poor financial position."

The actual plan expenditure of the ministry amounted to Rs 1,349.73 crore (Rs 13.49 billion) in 2007-08 and Rs 1,490.39 crore (Rs 14.9 billion) in 2008-09, against approved outlays of Rs 1,351 crore (Rs 13.51 billion) and Rs 1500 crore (Rs 15 billion) respectively.

He said that the ministry would focus on conventional environment areas, where they were under invested, like lake and river cleaning and effluent control.

The ministry expects a twofold increase at Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) for its flagship programme on cleaning the Ganga. Also, the World Bank will give $1 billion to the government for the same.

The estimated cost of stopping all discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into the Ganga by 2020 is $4 billion.

For lake cleaning, the ministry plans to increase its expenditure almost five times to Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) in 2010-11. During the Eleventh Plan period (2007-12), the expenditure on restoration of lakes was Rs 440 crore (Rs 4.4 billion), compared to Rs 164.49 crore (Rs 1.64 billion) in the Tenth Plan period and Rs 11.38 crore (Rs 113.8 million)in the Ninth Five Year Plan.

In the last Budget, the allocation under National River and Lake Conservation Plans was Rs 562 crore (Rs 5.62 billion), against Rs 335 crore (Rs 3.35 billion) in 2008-09.

Effluent treatment is another area of focus for the ministry, where it seeks an outlay of Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) per sewage treatment plant, up from Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) in the previous budget.

In the last Budget, the government had launched eight national missions as per the National Action Plan on Climate Change, besides setting up the National Ganga River Basin Authority.

There was also a special one-time grant of Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) for Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun.

Also, Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) each was allocated to Botanical Survey of India, Zoological Survey of India and the Geological Survey of India.

Though forests were 'underfunded' in previous years, the ministry does not seek increased allocation for forest conservation.

The total expenditure on forests was almost doubled to Rs 8,300 crore (Rs 83 billion) in 2009-10 from Rs 3,700 crore (Rs 37 billion) in 2008-09.

"There has been an unprecedented increase in funds for forest conservation and such an increase has not taken place in any sector," said Ramesh.

Emphasising that there is unspent money in forest conservation, Ramesh said the challenge was to improve the adaptive and managerial capacities.

"We must bother about the absorptive capacity, as the state governments have not made any new recruitments. To be on the radar screen, there needs to be a critical level of funding and now, we have to make sure that the absorptive capacity is there."

For the latest on Budget 2010-11, click here!

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Kirtika Suneja in New Delhi
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