Dr. OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India:
On Public Transport
With infrastructure and inclusive development as one of Budget 21-22’s six pillars, public transport has received a fillip. Allocation of Rs.18,000 crore for public buses in urban areas, pushing for 100% electrification of broad gauge rail tracks and bringing down logistics cost for railway by 2030, and the introduction of Metro-lite and Metro-neo for smaller cities, will impact a change in people’s commuting patterns. This will improve our air quality, reduce road congestion and enable an equitable urban infrastructure for the future. Now, there is a need to strengthen the end-to-end connectivity to boost the use of public transport further.
The Finance Minister has made several initiatives to encourage the MSME sector – one important support is the tax reductions it announced to MSMEs that recycle scraps. This would support the sector effectively as well as encourage a waste recycling process. A good circular economy-based initiative.
Madhav Pai, director, Sustainable Cities, WRI India
Budget 21 has proposed to set up a portal to collect information on gig-workers and other daily-wage workers in the informal sector, and extend social security benefits to them. This is a first step towards enabling and empowering the 40 crore-plus unorganized work force in India, and securing their livelihoods in the urban and rural economy.
Ulka Kelkar, Director, Climate, WRI India:
On green hydrogen
Union Budget 2021 has announced a Green Hydrogen Mission. Not only is this essential to decarbonize heavy industries like steel and cement, it also holds the key to clean electric mobility that doesn’t depend on rare minerals.
On bringing down logistics cost for railways
Budget 2021 backed Indian Railways dedicated freight corridors to bring down logistics cost for the industry. It also makes environment sense. As India’s economy grows, shifting freight transport from road to rail can reduce emissions and oil dependence considerably.
Vandana Vasudevan, senior fellow, WRI India:
On incentives to start-ups
The start-up incentives announced in the Union Budget 2021 is commendable. But start-ups are not just app-based ventures started by educated, upwardly mobile urban youth. A rural woman trying to do a craft business is also a start-up entrepreneur. Access to funds to support rural and urban poor businesses is what will boost enterprise.
On Rs. 18,000 crore allocations to public buses
In urban India impact of more public buses has a gender aspect. According to the last census, 17% of working women – and only and 10 % men – use buses to commute to work. An addition bus fleet across cities, and better quality buses, will benefit women immensely.
Namrata Ginoya, Manager – Climate Resilience Practice and Energy Access, WRI India
On MSP for farmers
The FM’s budget speech highlighted how Minimum Support Price has supported farmers over the years. Increased cover through MSP is indeed good but its allocation needs to be amended based on climate change projections, ground water resources and fertilizer use to sustain production and improve uptake of local crops.
Dr. Ajay Singh Nagpure, director, air quality, WRI India
On reduced air quality funds
Budget 21-22 saw a drop in the funds for air quality improvement from Rs 4,400 crore in 2020. Incidentally, last year’s funds remained largely unutilized by the urban local bodies. This year, a consorted effort by the states and cities to develop capacity, will help use the allocated funds efficiently and impact on-ground change.
Pamli Deka, Associate director, Energy
On allotment to heath infrastructure
The budget outlay for health and wellness has gone up by more than 100 percent and a new set of health centers are to be set up across India. New health centers and better vaccination facilities means there is a need for better electric infrastructure in the country. Distributed renewable energy can play an important role in this regard.