Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, citing pollution as a matter of concern, said the government proposes to encourage states that are formulating and implementing plans for ensuring cleaner air in cities with population of one million. The Union Budget allocated Rs 4,400 crore for National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) for the year 2020-21.
Detailing the plans for environment and climate change in the Budget 2020 speech, Nirmala said, "In large cities having population above one million, polluted air is a matter of concern... Parameters for the incentives would be notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change. Allocation for this purpose is Rs 4400 crore for 2020-2021."
Emphasising the Prime Minister's international initiative - Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) with its Secretariat in Delhi, 2019, and International Solar Alliance, 2015, Nirmala said this will help strengthen global partnership to address a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as it also aims for Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction. "It will enhance climate change adaptation with a focus on disaster resilient infrastructure," she said.
She added India submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement in 2015 on a "best effort" basis, bearing in mind the development imperative of the country. "Its implementation effectively begins on January 1, 2021. Our commitments stand as action will be executed in various sectors by the Departments/Ministries concerned through the normal budgeting process."
According to India's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), the energy intensity is targeted to decline by 33% to 35% by 2030, in comparison to 2005, and in addition to 40% of power from non-fossil sources.
The FM also said the government will advise utilities to close down thermal power plants if their emission is above prescribed norms under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). "There are yet, thermal power plants that are old and their carbon emission levels are high. For such power plants, we propose that utilities running them would be advised to close them, if their emission is above the pre-set norms. The land so vacated can be put to alternative use." Sitharaman said.
The government had directed all the thermal power plants to install Flue Gas Desulphurization (FDG), which reduces emissions of sulphur dioxide in phases. By December 2022, all the 440 coal-fired plants that produce 166.5 GW have to comply with the regulation. The minister also proposed to provide about Rs 22,000 crore to power and renewable energy sector in 2020-21.