Union Budget 2015-16 reduces funds for Water and Environment Ministry
Centre has allocated Rs 4,173 crore for Water Resources and Namami Gange, thus slashing a substantial amount of funds to the Water Ministry to which Rs. 13,836 crore had been allocated in last year's budget. Also, the Government has cut allocation to the Environment Ministry to which Rs 1,681.60 crore has been earmarked this year as against Rs 1,764.60 crore for 2014-15. Though the Union Budget says a lot about water efficiency, it fails to identify regions like Marathwada suffering from chronic water insecurity.
Rajasthan Government cannot grant recognition to schools in absence of basic facilities
The High Court has ordered the Rajasthan Government not to grant recognition to new schools and colleges if they lack basic amenities, which includes separate toilets for boys, girls and staff, as well as drinking water. Also, the State Government has been directed to appoint a chairperson to the State Commission for Child Rights to monitor these basic facilities in schools. The earlier study conducted on the lines of the High Court guidelines has shown that 36% schools in Jaipur district lack toilet facilities.
AAP Government promises freebies to Delhi residents
After coming to power, the AAP Government has announced that it will provide 20,000 litres of free water per month and 50% discount in electricity bill to consumers using less than 400 units of power per month. Exceeding the limit will entitle the consumer to pay the full bill. However, experts say that the decision will take a heavy toll on the AAP Government for whom it will be tough to come up with more effective schemes in the longer run. Along with the freebies, the Government has also promised piped water to every household in Delhi within five years.
Petition filed to NGT against pollution in Chandrabhaga River
River expert Kalyan Rudra has filed a report with the National Green Tribunal against the pollution in Chandrabhaga River in Birbhum, West Bengal. According to him, dumping of flyash from the Bakreswar Thermal Power Project has caused the river water to turn whitish-grey in colour along with a drastic deterioration of the physical and chemical properties of the river. He has also pointed to total extinction of biodiversity in the river due to alarmingly high levels of ash-pond overflow discharge in the river.
To save the Yamuna river, 67 factories in Mathura asked to shift
Authorities have directed as many as 67 small factories in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, who are discharging hazardous effluents directly into the Yamuna, to shift location by March 31. These units can either shift to an industrial area or to a place of their choice. The factories failing to abide by the orders within the given time would be sealed. It is also alleged that the non-functioning of the sewage treatment plants (STPs) in these factories has led to acid mixed sewage jeopardising the STP of the Municipal Board.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from February 24 - March 2, 2015. Also read last week's news updates.