: The attention that the Aam Aadmi Party government has been giving to the environment for the last six months seemed to be missing in the State budget presented on Monday.
The budget for 2016-2017 did make the case for controlling vehicular pollution by improving public transport, reducing congestion, and curbing road dust. However, environmentalists said it fell short of making changes that would control the growth of private vehicles.
Finance Minister Manish Sisodia admitted in his budget speech that one of the main causes of air pollution was dust raised by vehicles. He said that the regular sweeping of roads did not help as particles remained suspended. He proposed a new policy of maintenance of roads, which would include mechanised cleaning of street furniture, signage, and kerb stones, and mechanical collection of litter and debris. A sum of Rs.100 crore was set aside for this.
With another 3,000 buses being announced and provisions for cycle tracks, the shift towards public transport was the main environment-friendly move in the budget.
According to Anumita Roychowdhury, the head of the Centre for Science and Environment’s clean air campaign, the government did not go far enough.
“We welcome the fact that the budget has made a clear attempt at tackling vehicular pollution and congestion. But, without strong tax-based measures to discourage people from buying cars, it is incomplete. We were hoping for increased taxes on vehicles,” said Ms. Roychowdhury.
Meanwhile, the other measures mentioned in the budget were repeated. Mr. Sisodia said two construction and demolition waste recycling plants would be set up at Tikri and Libaspur. But, the Public Works Department has been working on four C&D waste plants, including at these two locations, for years. In fact, the PWD had even floated tenders for the work in 2014. The budget included setting up three more ambient air quality monitoring stations, taking the total to 9. This, too, is something that is already underway, with tenders having been floated a few months ago. The budget did, however, make a Rs.137-crore provision for LED screens to display information on pollution and other issues at public places.
This year, the budget did not make any mention of plantation or greening. Last time, Mr. Sisodia had said that 12 lakh saplings would be planted.
The AAP govt. announced another 3,000 buses with an aim to encourage
use of public transport
in the Capital