The Narendra Modi government on Saturday allocated Rs 4,400 crore to reduce air pollution, and ensure clean air in cities with more than one million inhabitants. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made the announcement in the Union Budget speech in the Lok Sabha.
In November, extreme air pollution had forced authorities in Delhi to close schools, restrict the use of cars, and declare a public health emergency. In the Budget presented in July 2019, Sitharaman had earmarked Rs 460 crore for pollution control schemes.
“In large cities with a population of over one million, clean air is a matter of concern,” Sitharaman said. “The government proposes to encourage such states that are formulating and implementing plans for cleaner air in cities with a population of over one million. Parameters for the incentives would be notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change. Allocation for this purpose is Rs 4,400 crore for 2020-’21.”
Sitharaman said old thermal power plants that emit pollutants above prescribed norms would be advised to close down, and the reclaimed land would be put to alternative use. The finance minister reiterated India’s commitment to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and said the implementation of its “nationally determined contribution” would effectively begin on January 1, 2021.