To make India a developed nation by 2047, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set onto a path of ‘Saptarishi’, also called the seven goals. And one of these goals is green growth. As India has pledged to achieve Net Zero by 2070, ESG followers have their eyes glued to the Union Budget 2023-24 presented by Nirmala Sitaraman, the finance minister of India. It is a positive budget for sustainability enthusiasts as it includes many greens. As reflected in the budget, the focus of India on green growth is praiseworthy. It includes programmes towards green fuel, green farming, green buildings, green energy, green mobility, green equipment and green policies across several economic sectors.
The finance minister said that green growth is something that can be “transformative during Amrit Kaal”. It could reduce the carbon intensity of India’s economy, boost the country’s development and provide numerous green job opportunities. The Prime Minister aims for India to achieve LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) so that the country will soon undergo the needed green transition.
Following are the green programmes and initiatives that the Finance Minister has rolled out in the latest budget-
a. Green Credit programme
This programme will be introduced under the Environment Protection Act to stimulate sustainability and actions in that direction by individuals, corporates and local bodies in the excitement of credits and incentives. A shift to a sustainable economy demands a lot of capital in the initial stage and this programme is the needed channel through which capital support shall be provided.
b. Funding for energy transition and net zero objectives
A whopping sum of ₹35,000 crore has been allocated for the above objective
c. Funding for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
The previous budget too had granted ₹2478 crore to the above Ministry. The present budget, however, has increased the grant to ₹3079.4 crore for the Ministry.
d. Budget for the National Mission on Natural Farming
An exclusive budget of ₹459 crore was allocated to promote sustainable farming. The government shall provide support in the construction of appropriate farming infrastructure which will reduce losses for farmers. It plans to make India a global market leader for millet. It also plans to launch the PRANAM ( Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment and Amelioration of Mother Earth) scheme, which will encourage farmers to opt for sustainable agricultural practices. The scheme discourages the use of harmful fertilisers. The Agricultural Accelerator Fund shall be a boon to Rural India as it will accelerate employment and entrepreneurship for the local people in the rural parts.
e. Budget for controlling pollution
A total budget of ₹756 crore was allocated towards pollution control measures. They have supported the vehicle scrappage policy. The policy supports a circular economy by replacing old and polluting vehicles with green alternatives.
f. Clean Power
A budget of ₹10,222 crore was allocated to the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. An amount of ₹361 crore was allotted to the solar energy central sector themes. It will also create an interstate transmission system for evacuation and grid integration of 13 GW of renewable energy from Ladakh.
g. Green Hydrogen mission
Ms. Sitaraman acknowledged green hydrogen as a sunrise industry which has the potential to transform India’s economy into a low-carbon economy. Shifting to green hydrogen can significantly reduce dependency on fossil fuels and imports. She says that India aims to achieve a target of 5 MMT by 2030.
h. Exemption from custom duty
In order to facilitate green mobility, customs duty on the import of goods and machinery that are used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion cells shall be exempted. Lithium-ion is used for batteries and if custom duty is done away with, the price of the battery is reduced considerably. This will ultimately reduce the price of electric vehicles making them an attractive purchase for consumers.
i. MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes)
A novel project was introduced under which the plantation of mangroves on salt pan lands and along the coastline shall be encouraged.
j. Amrit Dharohar
In order to encourage the optimal use of wetlands and enhance biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities, a new scheme named Amrit Dharohar was introduced, which is said to be implemented in the next three years.
k. Sustainable cities
The finance minister encouraged urban planning reforms like uses of efficient land and resources, wet and dry waste management and transit-orientated development to transform cities into future sustainable-cities. For this purpose, three centres of excellence for AI (Artificial Intelligence) shall be instituted in leading educational institutions. These centres will also help in attaining intensive research-driven solutions in the agriculture and health sectors. The government also plans to bring 500 ‘waste to wealth’ plants under the GOBARdhan (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) scheme. The government believes that these plants which shall include compressed biogas plants will effectively promote a circular economy.
l. Environment-friendly diamonds
To encourage the production of lab-grown diamonds, a research and development grant shall be given to one of the leading IITs (Indian Institute of Technology).
The approach towards sustainability in the present budget is quite forward-looking. It definitely makes India appear as a potential climate leader on a global footing. The government has taken its net zero targets and objective to fight climate change very seriously and is trying to put its best foot forward to achieve the same.
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