Budget a framework for restoring land resources: IORA

New Delhi (India), February 8: The Budget for 2023-24 continues the trend of the past few years of incremental announcements on “green priorities” and is a milestone in the country’s journey towards a net zero target by 2070. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced green growth as one of the government’s key pillars for development.  

Much of the government’s focus on green growth continues to be towards transitioning to green energy with a priority capital investment of Rs 35,000 crore towards green energy transition and energy security.  Additionally, Rs 19,700 crore has been allocated for the Green Hydrogen Mission for low carbon transition.

The budget for the first time has created a clear framework for promoting greener practices in Indian agriculture and restoring degraded lands as a key aspect of India’s sustainable development roadmap. The FM has announced a bouquet of initiatives from restoring wetlands, mangroves, and degraded agricultural lands to green credit.  

In order to promote the rejuvenation of degraded agricultural lands, over the next three years, the government will facilitate 10 million farmers to adopt natural farming. For this, 10,000 Bio-Input Resource Centres will be set up, creating a national-level distributed micro-fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing network.  

The budget lays emphasis on the promotion of non-chemical fertilizers through the PM-PRANAM scheme, while 500 new ‘waste to wealth’ plants will be set up under the GOBARdhan (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) scheme will promote circular economy. These will include 200 compressed biogas (CBG) plants, with 75 plants in urban areas and 300 community or cluster-based plants. In due course, 5 per cent compressed biogas mandate will be introduced for all organizations marketing natural and biogas. The scheme will have a total investment of Rs 10,000 crore. 

According to IORA CEO Swapan Mehra, “this is a crucial intervention that not only supports soil health but also considers farmer incomes and larger ecosystems’ health. This is further complimented by GOBARdhan scheme that aims to invigorate organic bio-agro resources and promote a circular economy.”

Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) initiative is also a welcome step as it provides a special focus on the conservation and restoration of the Mangrove habitat. “India’s coastal ecosystem is under threat and requires immediate attention to build the resilience of coastal communities and biodiversity present in those regions. Our research and analysis of Indian wetlands have always revealed the immense contribution of these important ecosystems to our local economies, biodiversity, and culture. The announcement of Amrit Dharohar scheme to value and invest in realizing the multi-use values of wetlands will go a long way in achieving their true potential to contribute to India’s green growth. These commitments are a tremendous boost for our journey towards a green India,” says Mehra.

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