Cleaner fuel for cooking, renewable energy targets and managing stubble burning remained conspicuously absent in the Union Budget 2021-22, presented by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman February 1, 2021.
The Budget lost the opportunity to address the rural sector as well, where the Union government’s Ujjwala Scheme will be extended to only 10 million additional beneficiaries. According to the last Census of India (2011), 63 per cent rural households used firewood as primary cooking fuel and 23 per cent crop residues and cow dung cakes.
Facilitating rural areas to shift to cooking gas will not only curb carbon emissions, but also reduce indoor air pollution and associated health issues.
The Budget also did not mention the Union government’s plan on dealing with crop residue, burning of which contributes heavily to air pollution in north India. A strategy on the collection and usage of crop residue could help building extra income for farmers, electricity generation from biomass and reduction in air pollution.
The Union government has recently been vocal about the achieving its renewable energy targets of 175 gigawatt by 2022 and 450 GW by 2030. The Budget, however, did not say anything about the government’s plans and the financial assistance available for the same.
[source: downtoearth.com, 02/02/2021]