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Budget 2022: What it means for the environment

This year's budget has meant many things for a lot of people. Most of all, the state seems to have acknowledged its responsibility towards climate change through its various environment-friendly policies and interventions, that are in line with the global goals for Sustainable Development.

With the beginning of the decade of action, the Government of India's budget of 2022-23 has taken some major steps forward for a sustainable way of life.

But are they good for the environment?

Are they regressive steps? Well, you decide.

Here are 11 major areas of sustainability and the circular economy that stand to get affected through this year's budget:

Solar manufacturing

With a goal of 280 GW (GigaWatt) of installed solar capacity by 2030(present capacity 47.66 GW ), funding for domestic solar cells and module manufacturing has been enhanced under the Performance Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. From an existing INR 4500 crore, it has been raise to a whopping Rs 24,000 crore. The principal aim here is to reduce import dependence in the electricity sector. The government has also announce its plans to launch sovereign bonds and increase the funding for solar equipment.

Electric vehicle segment

Considering the various constraints in managing the EV ecosystem, especially charging stations at scale, a battery swapping policy will be brought out. Manufacturers will be encouraged to develop sustainable and creative business models for battery or energy as a service, which will help in increasing the EV ecosystem efficiency.

Parivesh portal

The Parivesh portal was launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in 2018 to act as an interface between regulators and project proponents. Under the new budget, the scope of this portal has been expanded to streamline the application and clearance process for Environment, Forest, Wildlife, and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) in a more holistic manner. This includes clearances from the central, state, and district-level authorities.

Chemical-free agriculture

Chemical-free farming entails cultivation using natural farmyard inputs like manure, cow and buffalo dung, urine vermicompost, and other such natural ingredients, instead of urea, di-ammonium phosphate, and other synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Initially, chemical-free farming will be promoted across land patches that are within 5-km wide corridors along the Ganga, and will subsequently be progressively implemented across the country. States would be encouraged to revise the syllabi of agricultural universities “to meet the needs of natural, zero-budget and organic farming, modern-day agriculture, value addition, and management”.

Climate finance

Image credits: iberdrola

Green Bonds are debt instruments, proceeds from which are used by the government to finance projects that have a positive impact on the environment. The proceeds will be deployed in public sector projects to help reduce the carbon intensity of the economy. It would be medium to long term but not short-term. The government also aims to promote funds for blended finance with the government share being up to 20 percent for sunrise opportunities, which will include agricultural technology and climate action. It is being expected that this will also encourage foreign investment for relatively newer industries.

Steel scrap

Due to the high prices of raw materials, steel consumption dropped last year, impacting the country’s economy. The Steel Scrap Recycling Policy mentions the role of steel scraps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 58 percent. A one-year extension to the customs duty exemption was given to steel scrap last year. Steel scrap is an alternative raw material in steel manufacturing.

Unblended fuel

An excise duty of ₹2 per litre has been proposed on unblended fuel, effective from October 1. The proposal would mean that areas that do not have a supply of blended fuel will see higher rates than the areas where the blended fuel is sold. At present, parts of the north-east, Jammu & Kashmir, and some areas in the southern parts of the country as well as parts of Rajasthan do not have a supply of ethanol-blended petrol. The government has also lowered the Goods and Services Tax rate from 18 to 5 percent on ethanol under the EBP Programme.

Aluminum coaches instead of stainless steel

This would mean a lighter weight of coaches, resulting in better fuel efficiency and lower haulage cost. Aluminum is a corrosion-resistant aluminum which would mean an increased life span of coaches up to 40 years. This will also help the ministry generate higher margins due to decreased costs.

Biomass pellets

Thermal plants use 5-7% biomass pellets in their fuel mix. Mandating the use of biomass pellets serves the three-fold purpose -

- Encouraging farmers to convert crop stubble into pellets instead of burning, thus providing additional income to farmers.

-Creation of employment opportunities in the waste to energy sector.

- Close to 38 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide would be saved from emissions into the atmosphere.

Image credits: biopelletmachine

River interlinking projects

Ken-Batwa river interlinking project will be taken up at a cost of Rs 46,000 crore. The project will provide water to 9.05 lakh hectares of agricultural land and 65 lakh people. The project raises concerns as it would submerge a major portion of the core area of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. Draft Project Reports of Daman Ganga -Pinjar, Par Tapi- Narmada, Krishna- Godavari, Krishna- Pennar, and Pennar- Cauvery have been finalized.

Decentralized green projects

DRE (Distributed Renewable Energy) is a system that uses renewable energy to generate, store and distribute power in a localized way. DRE projects to be set up in northern border villages, under the Vibrant Village Programme. This would help in boosting the clean energy transition in rural India. DRE sector also helps create quality jobs in rural areas.

What do you think about each of these categories? Let us know..

-Written by Jasmeen Dhingra

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