The Union Budget 2018-19 has left the environment sector in the lurch as it is "neither populous nor helping 'Ease of Doing' business", with the government's special scheme to combat air pollution being "without any substance", says SANDRAP, a network working on issues related with water sector.
The South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRAP) said the Budget had a "lacklustre" approach towards the crucial sector.
The budgetary allocation for the environment ministry for 2018-19 stood at Rs 26.75 billion (Rs 2,675.42 crore), identical to last Budget's allocation. The ministry had got an increase of nearly 19 per cent during the 2017-18 Budget.
Presenting his fifth straight Budget in the Lok Sabha, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region was a "cause of concern".
He said a special scheme would be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and subsidise the machinery required for institutional management of crop residue.
"The Budget has nothing to offer for environment - even its promise of a scheme for incentivising the use of machines in Delhi and adjoining states...is without substance, sustainable development, democratic governance, equity, participatory or transparent decision making," Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP said.
The recently released Economic Survey had called the national capital one of the "unhealthiest" cities in the world in terms of air pollution.
The survey had suggested heavy penalties for burning agricultural waste and more incentives for farmers to prevent the "alarmingly" poor air quality in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas.
Thakkar said one had thought that the Budget would have something concrete to offer with regard to the environment and climate change, given the impending elections and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Davos, wherein he said climate change was one of the biggest challenges of future.
"We are mostly disappointed. The (Budget) speech was full of politically correct statements but lacked substance to inspire confidence. The track record of the present government has been so poor that such empty words are not going to convince anyone," he added.