BUDGET 2013: FINANCE MINISTER DESERTS THE FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE SECTOR - 1st March 2013

TNN
(1 crore = 10 000 000 rupees)

NAGPUR: Union finance minister P Chidambaram talked of sustainable development while presenting the budget, but allocated virtually nothing to the environment and forestry sector.

"Chidambaram allocated merely Rs2,430 crore to MoEF, which is 0.001% of the total budgeted expenditure of Rs16,65,297 crore for 2013-14 while it was mandatory for him to make it 2.5% of the total budget" said Kishor Rithe, member of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).

In contrast, the ministry of rural development got Rs80,194 crore, a marked increase of 46% as compared to last year. Similarly, the ministry of agriculture received Rs27,049 crore, an increase of 22%.
Rithe added poachers are active and tigers and elephants are being electrocuted.

The budget statement "Development must be economically and ecologically sustainable and democratically legitimate" sounds good but there is no scheme to conserve 618 protected areas in the country which contribute to regulate climate for sustainable development. “I've hardly seen any budget presented so far by any finance minister showing concerns through their arithmetic about 'sustainable development' although they use these words in their budget speeches," said Rithe.

Rithe says India is targeting to achieve sustainable rural development through agriculture-based development but this totally depends on protecting forests.

Prerna Bindra, member of NBWL and State Board for Wildlife, Uttarakhand. said "While the budget cautions that development must be sustainable, it is essentially rhetoric as there is no substance to back this up or ensure that the drive for investment will be governed by green regulations that protect our health, environment and forests. Indeed, the FM extols the cabinet committee on investment, which is mandated to fast-track forest and wildlife clearances."

"Focus is on infrastructure, roads and highways, mining and power projects which will put tremendous pressure on forests and wildlife corridors. Shockingly, there is no allocation to address adverse impacts of these projects or mitigation measures," said Prafulla Bhamburkar, manager of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

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