Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman in her budget speech on Saturday announced the government's plan to tackle pollution and climate change.
While talking about the steps taken by the government towards tackling pollution and climate change, the Finance Minister informed about India submitting its nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement in 2015 and also proposed incentives to encourage sub-states that are formulating and implementing plans for ensuring cleaner air.
Proposing incentives to states, the Finance Minister said, "Clean air is a matter of concern in large cities. We propose to encourage states to formulate and implement plans to ensure clean air. Allocation for this purpose is Rs 4,400 crores."
Adding further, the Finance Minister issued a warning to the utilities running old thermal plants and proposed to shut them. "We propose to the utilities running old thermal power plants to close them if their emission is above preset norms."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had played a big role in 2015 when over a hundred countries had signed the Paris COP 21 Climate Change Accord. Since then, a lot has changed, particularly on account of the election of Donald Trump as the President of the US. The US government has since pulled out of the Paris Climate accord, though India's resolve towards protecting the environment has remained unchanged, with the latest moves being war against single-use plastics and a significant increase in India's renewable energy target.
This year's Budget assumes tremendous significance as the Indian economy is facing multiple challenges such as a rise in inflation, unemployment, farmer distress and a dip in GDP growth. While beginning her Budget speech, the Finance Minister had said that the focus would be on increasing incomes and elevating purchasing power.
In the Economic Survey 2019-20 tabled on the floor of the Parliament on Friday, the GDP growth for the next fiscal year has been pegged at 6-6.5%. This is much more than the IMF estimate.