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Green Ministry Seeks Rs 1.69 l cr Grant to Curb Pollution Woes
The Economic Times  |  November 14, 2019

Anubhuti Vishnoi New Delhi

The environment ministry has sought a Rs 1.69 lakh crore “pollution abatement performance grant” from the 15th Finance Commission to deal with the burgeoning problem of pollution across large parts of India. It has suggested that 60% weightage be given to the Indo-Gangetic plain, where the national capital lies and which is faced with severe air pollution levels.

 

In a proposal submitted to the commission in March, a copy of which was recently seen by ET, the ministry suggested that Rs 1.65 lakh crore of the Rs 1.69 lakh crore fund be specifically spent on “pollution abatement measures”. These include “measures to control agricultural residue burning”, transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and the procurement of electric buses and building related infrastructure, factors that are expected to aggravate air pollution levels in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). The proposal said that the resources available with the ministry were much less than required.

 

The environment ministry, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and top officials of Punjab and Haryana governments have faced the Supreme Court’s ire over “severe” levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR and the lack of adequate steps taken to counter the menace.

 

The ministry also sought Rs 62,438 crore for catchment area treatment and forest restoration grants and another Rs 1.35 lakh crore for meeting climate change goals &ndash rejuvenating degraded land and the ground water levels in states.

 

The proposal said that funds from the pollution abatement performance grant would also be invested in purchase and installation of air pollution control equipment, technologies to check industrial emissions and awareness campaigns aimed at behavioural changes.

 

Waste management and water quality maintenance are the two other parameters identified for immediate action by the ministry. It proposed to use the funds to ensure better municipal solid waste collection and transport, creation of sanitary landfills, setting up of sewage treatment plants and material processing and recovery facilities. As per the proposal, Rs 4,000 crore would be set aside for state pollution control boards to help them ramp up infrastructure and capacity. The ministry further suggested that the quantum of funding to each state be decided on the basis of how effectively it deals with various kinds of pollutants and how it scores on parameters devised by the CPCB. It suggested that 40% weightage be given to a state’s score on improvement of air quality performance, another 40% weightage to the state’s score on improvement of waste management performance and the remaining 20% to the state’s performance and scores on water quality of river stretches.

 

The 15th Finance Commission is separately working on a plan to set up a special Rs 69,000 crore corpus to incentivise urban local bodies and link central funding to measurable improvement in air quality and solid waste management in cities with a population of at least a million, according to people aware of the matter.

 

The environment ministry has proposed that these grants be linked to action on containing PM 10 levels. It suggested that higher weightage be given to states in the Indo-Gangetic plain since the air quality these landlocked states suffer from “an inherent disadvantage due to their geographical location”.

 

The ministry proposed that 60% of the total air pollution grants be given to the disadvantaged states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Rajasthan based on “performance with regard to annual average concentrations of PM 10 in the ambient air”.