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Budget 2020: Many sustainability schemes but no action plan, say experts

The Budget recognised water stress as a serious concern and proposed comprehensive measures for 100 water stressed districts in the country

Sonal Khetarpal        Last Updated: February 1, 2020  | 22:52 IST
Budget 2020: Many sustainability schemes but no action plan, say experts
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In her Budget speech, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned three critical elements of development: aspirational India, development and a caring society. All these are critical part of sustainable development goals.

One measure announced was to promote natural gas use in India. The minister proposed two things: expansion of the national gas grid from the present 16,200 km to 27,000 km, and reforms to facilitate transparent price discovery and ease of transactions. This will incentivise companies to invest in exploration and extraction of natural gas and encourage them to move to lower carbon pathways, says Souvik Bhattacharjya, Associate Director, Integrated Policy Analysis Division at TERI.

FULL COVERAGE:Union Budget 2020

The Budget recognised water stress as a serious concern and proposed comprehensive measures for 100 water stressed districts in the country. It also expanded the scope of the PM-KUSUM scheme to another 20 lakh farmers to set up stand-alone solar pumps. Another measure proposed is to leverage existing fallow and barren land for generating solar power. This will give good livelihood opportunities to farmers, the FM said.

She also mentioned the need to use organic fertilizers and change the existing incentive regime that encourages farmers to use chemical fertilisers.

Budget 2020 proposes to put in place a framework for sustainable management and development of the 'blue' economy. India is the second largest exporter of fish and development of fisheries has to be done in a sustainable manner.

In addition, the Budget also proposed closing old thermal power plants that have high carbon emissions.

While these are all positive steps, a detailed understanding of how it is going to work, information on resource allocation and steps on implementation are required, says Bhattacharjya of TERI. "Most of these are statements and are not backed by a national strategy or policy mechanism. This Budget talks of steps critical for sustainable development but fails to give concrete plan or even an idea on how to take it forward."

The Budget reiterates the government's aim to provide piped water to all households under the Jal Jeevan Mission and has allocated Rs 3.6 lakh crore for the purpose. It will also promote source sustainability and water harvesting. But the question to be asked is that since piped water is usually exploited more, then how does a water connection lead to sustainable or efficient use of water?

Also Read: Budget 2020 Speech Live Updates: Budget will boost people's income, enhance purchasing power, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Also Read: Budget 2020: Nirmala Sitharaman pays homage to former FM Arun Jaitley

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