Even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raised concerns over rising air pollution in his Budget speech, not a single extra paisa was granted to the Union Environment Ministry for this fiscal, while the funds for pollution abatement were slashed.
The Environment Ministry is proposed to be allocated Rs 2,675.42 crore in the 2018-19 Union Budget, the same as last year.
For year 2018-19, the government however seems more focused on tree-plantation drive, the sector that saw the biggest shoot in terms of funds allocation for a single programme.
Fund for Pollution Abatement under 'Environment Protection, Management and Sustainable Development' was reduced to Rs 20 crore this fiscal against Rs 21.20 crore for 2017-18, which was further cut down to Rs 7.50 crore under revised estimation in 2017-18.
The priorities too seem to have shifted in several key areas as the government's tree plantation drive under "National Mission for Green India" recorded maximum hike with Rs 159 crore allocated for afforestation in 2018-19, an increase of Rs 52 crore over last fiscal.
The Centre also seems focused on conservation of the Tiger, Elephant and tackling Wildlife Crimes with more funds proposed. However it appeared on the backfoot with regard to biodiversity conservation where the funds were halved to to Rs 14.50 crore this financial year against Rs 30.21 crore in 2017-18.
For Project Tiger, the Centre has proposed Rs 350 crore against Rs 345 crore last year, and for Project Elephant the amount proposed is Rs 30 crore against Rs 27.50 crore in 2017-18.
Development of Wildlife Habitat is also set to receive more with Rs 165 crore proposed for this year, against Rs 150 crore in last fiscal.
Awareness drive, as hinted by the Union Environment Minister earlier, also became the government's priority with Rs 7 crore diverted towards environment education, awareness and training. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was also granted extra funds with Rs 100 crore proposed for current fiscal against Rs 74.30
Surprisingly, no funds were allocated to Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) that received Rs 5.40 crore last fiscal,
Government also cut down the entire budget for the National Coastal Zone Management Programme from Rs 441.98 crore in 2017-18 (revised estimate Rs 152.50 crore), with no allocation made.
Funds for Conservation of Coral and Mangroves were also a big zero this year against Rs 18 crore in last fiscal, even with several reports pointing to degradation of coastal biodiversity.
In 2017-18, the Ministry got a hike of over Rs 300 crore than the budget 2016-17.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)