On transport, mobility and clean air: missing the bus
CSE welcomes the hike in excise duty on big cars and sports and multi-utility vehicles. At the same time, it feels the hike should have been more. A mere two per cent raise is too little too late. The numbers of these oil-guzzling vehicles are increasing, even as the nation dithers on fuel economy standards – the hike may not do much in controlling this situation.
The Budget has not reduced the excise duty on buses – something which CSE has been demanding consistently. Buses, which carry many more people in our cities, are being charged the same excise duty as small cars and two-wheelers, which transport much fewer numbers. This failure to incentivise public transport might prove to be costly for our already highly congested cities.
The Budget has done nothing either to stop the rampant growth in the market for diesel personal vehicles. CSE has, again, consistently urged respective governments to increase the excise duty on polluting diesel vehicles in order to reduce distortions arising out of the fuel price differential and control the numbers of diesel cars swamping India’s roads. Dieselisation is a serious threat in the light of worsening air quality in several Indian cities.
On clean and renewable energy, and climate change: some bright sparks
CSE welcomes the establishment of a National Clean Energy Fund for financing research and innovation in clean energy technology. Taxes and duty reductions for solar energy technologies and LEDs will give the necessary impetus for the growth of renewable energy technology in the country. The increase in the allocation to the ministry of new and renewable energy and the grant of Rs 200 crore to launch the Climate Resilient Agriculture Initiative are steps in the right direction as well, say CSE researchers.
On environmental pollution: too little
Though the finance minister has mentioned the ‘polluter pays’ principle in his speech, the budget is devoid of a ‘big ticket’ idea to control pollution levels, points out CSE. The ministry of environment and forests, in January 2010, had identified 75 critically polluted areas in the country. The finance minister has agreed to clean just one – Tirupur.
Similarly, allocation of an additional Rs 250 crore for cleaning the Ganga is not going to solve the problem of contamination of the river’s waters.
Overall, say CSE researchers, while the budget holds promise on clean and renewable energy, it is woefully lacking in any initiative on public transport or pollution management.
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