The risks of climate change are the strongest negative externalities that affect India and other countries around the world, said the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharama while presenting the Union Budget Tuesday in Parliament. Sitharaman quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP26 in Glasgow saying that “what is needed is mindful and deliberate utilisation instead of mindless and destructive consumption and said that the government was committed to a strategy of low carbon development.
“The low carbon development strategy as enunciated in the ‘panchamrit’ that he announced is an important reflection of our government’s strong commitment towards sustainable development” she said. To push the Prime Minister vision of green energy Finance Minister announced the government’s intent of 280 GW of installed capacity of solar energy by 2030, for which it allocated Rs 19,500 crore to produce “high efficiency modules”.
For interlink river under Ken- Betwa Link Project at estimated cost of 44,605 crore , the ministry said that the aim is to providing irrigation benefits to 9.08 lakh hectare of farmers’ lands, drinking water supply for 62 lakh people, 103 MW of Hydro, and 27 MW of solar power. An allocations of 4,300 crore in RE 2021-22 and 1,400 crore in 2022-23 have been made for this project.
Calling the green economy a “sunrise economy”, Sitharaman said the “circular economy transition will help in productivity enhancement”, and has great potential for job creation including in sectors such as electronic waste management, management of used oil waste and toxic and hazardous industrial waste, end of use vehicles etc. The government is now looking at technology augmentation in these sectors, as well as convergence of sectors including the integration of the informal sector and extended user responsibility, she said.
The Finance Minister emphasised that upcoming sectors, such as e-mobility and the geo-spatial industry, were part of the sunrise economy, and said the government would promote a shift in urban public transportation, emphasising on electric vehicles as well as the creation of transportation zones which will be “fossil-fuel free”. For this, charging stations for electric vehicles will be developed across the country and scaled up, and a battery swapping policy will be brought in.
Sitharaman further announced that 5-7 per cent biomass pellets will be mandatorily used in thermal power plants, which will lead to CO2 savings of 38 MMT. She also announced that the Environment Ministry’s Parivesh portal – a single-window platform of environmental clearances for projects – will be further streamlined for ease of doing business, and that the four different clearances for projects – environmental clearance, forest clearance, wildlife clearance and CAMPA funds – will now be carried out through a single form.
Energy efficiency and energy savings will also be prescribed for large commercial buildings, which will include energy audits and performance-linked incentives. The government will also launch four pilot projects for coal gasification.
The Centre will also push agroforestry in the country as well as the development of private forests, and will incentivise agroforestry for farmers who want to take it up.
The Finance Minister further said that sovereign green bonds will be issued as a part of the government’s overall market borrowings to mobilise resources for green infrastructure in the public sector.
The money will used for projects that will help reduce carbon intensity of the economy. Sovereign green bonds will be part of government’s borrowing programme in FY23. Proceeds, Sitharaman said, will deployed in public sector projects.
The move is big boost especially with India making aggressive strides towards a low-carbon economy with ambitious targets like achieving a robust 175 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by the year 2022. Such targets require massive funding.