If this year's Union budget is to go by, growth seems to be only thing on UPA government's mind with little care for environment and its protection. At least environmental activists thought so as they alleged that Finance Minister P Chidamabram's knowledge regarding environment is “outdated and myopic”.
Chidambaram, while talking about environment sector in his budget, said that the Union government will evolve a scheme to encourage cities and municipalities to take up waste-to-energy projects.
"India tosses out several thousand tonnes of garbage each day. We will evolve a scheme to encourage cities and municipalities to take up waste-to-energy projects in public-private-partnership mode which would be neutral to different technologies," he said, while proposing to support municipalities that will implement waste-to-energy projects.
He also said that clean and green energy is a priority of the government. The finance minister also said that the non-conventional wind energy sector deserves incentives.
Chidambaram has proposed to allocate Rs2,430 Crores to MoEF this year, which is the same as last year. The total outlay for the climate change action plan, wildlife and forestry sector saw an increase while prevention and control of pollution saw a drop.
Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh also empahsised about environment, but his stress was limited to fastening process of environmenal and forest clearances to speed up growth.
PM in an interview to Doordarshan noted that there had been problems with regard to clearances — environmental clearances, forest clearances and land acquisition problems.
Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has been at loggerheads with various infrastructure ministries over green clearances to big projects allegeing that delay in such clearances are hurting India's growth story. Jayanthi Natarajan-led MoEF has, however, repeatedly denied such claims with facts.
Environmental activists, however, found budget lacking in focus on environmental issues. Activist Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment said "the FM should have left the subject of environment alone as his understanding of what we need is outdated and myopic."
"The FM says he will evolve a scheme to encourage cities to take up waste-to-energy projects in PPP mode. Clearly, this shows his complete lack of understanding of the garbage that is drowning our cities. The fact is that waste-to-energy plants, however, much a good idea, have not worked in the country,” Narain added.