Critically analyze the shortcomings of the budgetary approach to environmental protection in India while suggesting way forward.
Though the budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has increased by 18.88% from the previous year’s allocation, issues like wildlife conservation, pollution abatement and related areas require immediate policy intervention.
Shortcomings in the budgetary approach to environmental protection
Lack of integrated approach
First, even though the issues of forest management, resource conservation, pollution control and wildlife protection are increasingly connected, the policy approach of the government treats them in isolation with paying attention only at the macro-level.
Lax regulations in other sectors
Proactive measures for environment often ends as a farcical exercise because of lax regulations in other sectors like absence of corresponding measures to boost alternative energy sources, absence of curbs on polluting industries and vehicles and sustainable development approaches. The additional funding to this sector is often offset by damages done by other sectors.
Budgetary allocation to the environmental ministry is abysmally low given the challenges faced by environment in India. To tackle Climate change and increasing pollution, the government has allocated only Rs 40 crore and Rs 74 crore to the Climate Change Action Plan and Central Pollution Control Board. Similarly, programmes like coastal management, environmental monitoring, governance, National Afforestation Management, Project Tiger have received very low funds.
Under utilisation of funds
It has been found that funds allocated to the states and Union territories under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes remain grossly underutilised. These centrally sponsored schemes include Project Tiger, Project Elephant, Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats and Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems.
Government has the primary responsibility of providing safe and stable environment for the citizens. Government should understand that industrial growth at the cost of environment is not sustainable. Problems like disappearing wildlife, increasing conflicts, deterioration of ecology and habitat destruction have been the by-products of mindless propulsion of industries. To address these issues scientific, sustained and intensive measures based on the principles of sustained development is required.
E-Book: 063 - Government Budgeting
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