India is drowning in garbage, and its forests are in decline. So why does its proposed budget neglect the environment?
Activists say the only thing this budget seems to support is growth, and that Financial Minister Chidamabram's views on environmental protection are "outdated and myopic."
His plan to develop a public-private incentive for cities to take up waste-to-energy projects shows his lack of understanding, says India's Centre for Science and Environment, because it hasn't worked to solve the problem in the past.
New Dehli's DNA notes that although Chidamabram says the country should put more support behind clean energy, his new budget sets aside no more for these efforts than it did last year.
And Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's words supporting environmental protection seem even more hollow - as his focus is more about removing environmental protections of forests in order to speed growth.
India can and needs to do better than this. Tell India not to leave the environment out of the budget.
We, the undersigned, believe India can do a better job of cleaning up and protecting its environment, and that the government should certainly do more than give lip service to this issue.
In addition to the Finance Minister's failure to include proper funding for the environment in his proposed budget and Singh's push for removing forest protections that slow economic growth, Economic Times says the government has been covering up problems such as the serious decline of its forests.
ET says that while the government claims that "area under forests has been increasing for the last 13 years... this is the outcome of statistical jugglery and the use of flawed definitions by India's forest bureaucracy. The bald truth is India's forests are in serious decline, both in numbers and in health."
And Hindustan Times reported last year that India's Prime Minister's Office, "in a bid to fast-track industrial projects" was "opening up 25 percent of forests that were previously listed as ';no-go' areas." And these changes came after industry representatives met the Prime Minister's Office, headed by Manmohan Singh.
James Cook University's William Laurance told HT that "India has already lost over 80 percent of its native forests and further forest loss and degradation are still advancing rapidly."
This is terrible news for India's environment as well as India's wide variety of species, including Bengal tigers and other endangered species.
India not only needs to include proper funding for environmental protection in its budget, but it should stop misrepresenting the condition of its forests and other environmental concerns.
We ask that India not leave the environment out of its budget.
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