Monday, June 05, 2017

India Spends Just 0.3% of Its Environment Budget on Research: RTI

The Quint: Mumbai: Monday, June 05, 2017.
Deaths caused by pollution... is that a thing? Well, for the Environment Ministry it doesn’t seem to be one.
The ministry has rubbished studies of deaths due to pollution, even as it has failed to commission any study of its own on this big question.
RTIs filed by The Quint reveal that the Environment Ministry has spent less than half a percent of its already dipping annual budget on research.
Of 8,00,000 deaths in South East Asia due to pollution since 1990, 6,20,000, or a massive 77% were from India, according to a WHO 2016 report. A Greenpeace report says 3,300 Indians died everyday in 2015 due to pollution, taking the number to 12 lakh in the year.
To seek answers on how seriously the Ministry of Environment was taking pollution and deaths associated with it, The Quint filed RTIs on the following queries:
  • Had the Ministry of Environment conducted research on pollution?
  • Had the Ministry of Environment conducted research on deaths due to, or closely related to, pollution?
The Ministry transferred all these queries to concerned public information officers (CPIOs) in the administration and animal welfare division along with the Central Pollution Control Board, all of whom responded with the sarkaari response ‘Information to queries may be treated as ‘NIL’.
Environment Budget Slashed by 19% Over 5 Years
The government did share details of the ministry’s overall budget and budget for research in particular. But the details weren’t promising.
You ask why?
Between 2012-2013 and 2016-2017, the government budget for environment has been slashed by 19%. This clearly shows how low environment ranks in the government’s list of the most pressing concerns of our times.
Less Than 1/400th Of Budget Allocated For Research!
While the overall budget took a hit over the last five years, the government budget on research has remained static at an amazingly miniscule low!
This is not true only for this year but for the last five years.
From 2012-2013 to 2016-2017, the average percent of the budget spent on research is 0.24 percent.
Annual ‘Green’ Budget Vs Research Spend
  • 2012-2013: Total budget for Environment Ministry Rs 3,082 crore. Rs 6.5 crore spent on research – 0.21% of the budget.
  • 2013-2014: Budget Rs 2,884 crore. Research Rs 6.4 crore. 0.22% of the budget.
  • 2014-2015: Budget Rs 2,510 crore. Research Rs 6 crore. 0.23% of the budget.
  • 2015-2016: Budget Rs 2,047 crore. Research Rs 5.6 crore. 0.27% of the budget.
  • 2016-2017: Budget Rs 2,506 crore. Research Rs 6.8 crore. 0.27% of the budget.
Sorry State of Affairs for the Govt
It isn’t like the government had not made the correlation between deaths and pollution earlier.
In 2012, the Central Pollution Control Board report, titled ‘Epidemiological Study on Effect of Air Pollution on Human Health in Delhi’ recommended a study be conducted at regular intervals to detect and analyse the health effects of air pollution.
There is an absence of facilities for regular monitoring of public health in relation to air pollution exposures, despite the fact that protection of public health is the ultimate goal of air quality monitoring.
Central Pollution Control Board report, 2012.