March 9, 2021 7:50:16 am
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Forests and Climate Change and Science and Technology, chaired by Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh, on Saturday tabled its report on the demand for grants of the ministry.
In the report, the committee said that the government reduced its 2020-21 budgetary allocation for the ministry by 35 per cent in its revised estimates due to “adverse effects’’ of the Covid 19 pandemic, which resulted in non-release of funds in “all proposed activities mentioned in the Annual Plan of Operations’’ of various schemes.
The ministry has been able to spend 83 per cent of its revised estimate allocation until January this year, it noted.
The committee said that budget estimates for the Environment Ministry is the lowest in the last three years, and that the ministry requires additional funds of Rs 900 crore to carry out its programmes.
To control pollution, one of the main thrusts of the Environment Ministry in the coming year, the committee has recommended that a central mechanism be set up to monitor all central and state agencies in implementation of all projects, to ensure accountability and monitor the works. Control of pollution projects are carried out by different agencies at the Centre and by state governments, and this activity needs to be streamlined, the committee has observed.
The House panel has also recommended capacity-building exercises to be undertaken at the municipal level to ensure proper implementation of the national Clean Air Programme.
It has stated that grants should be made available by recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission for “installations of systems to monitor air quality’’ in smaller cities and towns that are often neglected, and also suffer from a lack of data.
The committee said that apart from implementing its schemes, the ministry needs to invest in setting up infrastructure for pollution abatement measures such as installing superchargers for electric vehicles and establishing effective microorganism bio-digester units for waste treatment and biogas production in urban areas, but also tackle the issue of stubble burning in rural areas.
Taking note of man-animal conflict that has been on the rise, the committee has suggested that the Environment Ministry needs to prioritise minimising such conflicts. It has expressed concern over the low expenditure on R&D in “Conservation and Development’’ – it stated that the ministry spent 16.3 per cent, 35.8 per cent and 23.5 per cent of its allocated amount in the last three years. The committee has also raised the need for monitoring plantation drives and CAMPA funds for afforestation.
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