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'Budget Has Nany Nice Words, Some Money But No Direction'

New Delhi

An environment think tank today said although the union budget had "many nice words and some money" but it failed to show any direction for "real change."

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said although the announcement of national adaption fund a first step to recognise the need to invest in building resilience of poor communities against climate change, it also added that the allocation of Rs 100 crore might be too little.

"The recognition that climate change is real and the need to 'adapt' is urgent is a very important message of Budget 2014. The FM provides Rs 100 crore of national adaptation fund.

"While it can be argued that this is too little, it is also a fact that this is a first step to recognise the need to invest in building resilience of poor communities against climate change. The question we will have now is, what will this money be used for?" director general of CSE Sunita Narain was quoted as saying in a press release.

She said,"Budget 2014: Many nice words, some money, but no direction for real change."

The CSE said the NDA Budget was no different from UPA-II when it comes to polluting vehicles as in Budget 2013, the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram had increased the tax on SUVs saying that they were inefficient and polluting.

"But in February, he took away the tax. Budget 2014 also believes that it must help cars that are large, inefficient and dirty," it said.

Talking about Rs 2,037 crore allocated for cleaning Ganga, CSE said the programme must be reinvented to succeed.

"The FM says nothing about the re-direction needed to clean the river. The previous UPA government had made funds available and even secured a loan of Rs 4,600 crore from the World Bank for Ganga cleaning.

"But all this money has not cleaned the Ganga because the approach is flawed. It focuses on building sewage treatment plants, which does not work in our poor and largely un-sewered cities," the press release said. 

The CSE said that although duty exemptions and other mentions of solar and renewable energy in the budget were welcome, but it was not enough.

"What the budget does not appreciate is the fact that the biggest future of solar energy in the country will be in decentralised and off-grid solutions – smaller power plants that provide clean energy to millions across India's grid and remote villages that have electricity lines but no power.

"Instead, the budget falls back on the 'big' solar plants – announcing Rs 500 crore for ultra mega solar power plants," it said.

CSE said the finance minister did not spell out what would be done with the money collected from clean energy cess on coal which was increased from Rs 50 to Rs 100 per tonne.

"Currently, roughly Rs 3,000-3,500 crore is collected in the National Clean Energy Fund, but not much is spent. The National Clean Energy Fund is important as it signals the need to make dirty coal more expensive to use.

"It is even more important as it is money that should be invested in renewable energy projects that meet the needs of the poorest. But this is not done. Instead, the money is frittered away in many small projects," it said.

CSE while commenting on Rs 100 crore for metro projects in Lucknow and Ahmedabad said that the budget does not provide directions which will work as far as transportation is concerned.

"Metro systems cost anywhere between Rs 150 crore to Rs 300 crore per km to build. So, is this Rs 100 crore going to build one km or just go into feasibility studies?

It said that although the Gujarat model was the flavour of the day in the budget but its most innovative and successful initiative to build bus rapid transit systems was ignored.

"There is no mention of buses – the affordable transport system for millions in cities still. Is it because it is too low-tech and old-fashioned?" it said.


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