I am sharing the schemes and announcements made in the Union Budget 2014 which can impact environment and wildlife, either positively and negatively. The following are the major ones.

Watershed development: An Initial outlay of 2142 crores under the name “Neeranchal” for watershed development. It is a welcome move. However, we need to see the details of how this money is going to be spent or on which components this money is going to be spent.

Safe drinking water through community water purification plants: 3600 crore in 3 years. : “many of our drinking water sources have excessive impurities like fluoride, arsenic and man-made contaminations due to untreated sewage, industrial effluents and leaching of pesticides and fertilisers. It is proposed to earmark 3,600 crore for National Rural Drinking water programme for providing safe drinking water in approximately 20,000 habitations affected with arsenic, fluoride, heavy/toxic elements, pesticides/fertilisers through community water purification plants in next 3 years.

This is a welcome move. However, it is very important to treat the disease and not just the symptoms. Force the Industries to set up affluent treatment plants which are functioning. Ensure that the corrupt officials of Pollution control boards don’t give their consent or certificate to the polluting industries. Ensure that farmers shift from synthetic pesticides and fertilisers to organic farming.

Every farmer with a soil health card in a mission mode. 100 crores allocation
Mobile soil testing across the country – allocation of 56 crores. Growing concerns of imbalance in the utilization of fertilisers resulting in deterioration of soil. Good move. However, please don’t stop only at mobile testing centres. Inform people that based on their soil and climatic conditions which all crops are better so that no water guzzling crops are grown in arid and water deficit areas. http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/indi...ol-4-issue-vi/

North-East Organic food fund: 100 crores allocation.

National adaptation fund for climate change with 100 crores
. We have to wait for the fine print. For a country like India we definitely need to be prepared for climate change and create our low cost technologies and solutions.

50 crores for “blue revolution” for inland fisheries
: I hope they don’t promote exotic fish species which destroy the native fishes.

4200 crores for Jal Marg Vikas in river Ganga (National waterways – I) to be developed between Allahabad and Haldia to cover a distance of 1620 crores for navigation of atleast 1500 tonne vessels. Project will be over a period of 6 years. This is a grand announcement. However does Ganga have that much water throughout the year for navigation? Unfortunately this would mean creation of a series of barrages to maintain water level. This would come as a death knell for our aquatic species as they now cannot migrate from one place to other. For example the creation of the barrage in Haridwar came as a big blow for Mahseer as the habitat is fragmented.

Solar Energy:
Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Laddakh with an outlay of 500 crores: Harnessing solar power is a welcome move as it is clean energy. Given India’s natural advantage the Government should have given more outlay here as well as tax breaks for this sector.

Set up one lakh Solar power driven agricultural pump sets and water pumping stations with outlay of 400 crores. Good move as the State Electricity boards spend lot of money in transmitting power and get nothing in return. Atleast the losses should go down.

1MW solar parks on bank of canals with plan outlay of 100 crores. Green energy corridor project for evacuation of renewable energy across the country. Hopefully these solar parks won’t have negative environmental issues.

100 crores for River Linking Project: Disastrous. Though this outlay of 100 crores is for studies, this is disastrous. It would have been better to divert this amount to watershed development. For more read: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/indi...ol-6-issue-iv/

Integrated Ganga Conservation Project – 2037 crores. Unfortunately Ganga is dying due to our apathy. Industries are still polluting the river. Unrestrained domestic sewage is a massive challenge as there is virtually continuous human habitations on its bank and the river needs uninterrupted stretch for self-cleansing.

100 crore Ghat development fund to be used to develop ghats in Kedarnath, Haridwar, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Patna and Delhi in the current financial year. The question is Why Kedarnath? Why create more concrete structures in environmentally fragile places? Varanasi being the constituency of the PM, I guess this provision is to generalise the beautification and not just limit to Varanasi.

National Centre for Himalayan Studies in Uttarakhand – 100 crores: Welcome move. However, this is certainly not enough to save the Himalaya. For more: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/indi...ol-5-issue-vi/

Total Sanitation: Cover every household by 2019. This is a welcome move. For impact of human excreta and defecation in the open on environment check this link: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/indi...ol-6-issue-ii/

Sardar Patel Statue: 200 crore provision. I would love to know who has done the Environmental impact of this project or whether an EIA will be done at all. So this is more important than saving the Himalaya as the provision for Himalayan studies is half of this. Since this was in their poll plan, they have pushed for it. However, in a country where people are dying of hunger, committing suicide when the monsoon fails, is it not a sin to spend 200 crores for a statue?