SC questions Centre over non-utilisation of environment protection fund; demands expenditure plan for Rs 77,000 crore

New Delhi: Expressing concern over non-utilisation of Rs 77,000 crore which was meant for environment protection, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre about how it intends to spend the "huge amount."

A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta slammed the Centre for not spending the environment protection fund. The government collected Rs 91,000 crore as the environment fund, but has spent only Rs 14,000 crore, it noted.

 SC questions Centre over non-utilisation of environment protection fund; demands expenditure plan for Rs 77,000 crore

File photo of Union minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan. PTI

"We are talking about Rs 91,000 crore. It appears that only Rs 14,000 crore has been spent. We have no idea where these Rs 14,000 crore have gone. Maybe, the fund was used for good purposes but now Rs 77,000 crore is left. You are sitting on it.

"It is meant for the sake of environment of the country and for benefit of the people. What are you doing on it? Why this is not being utilised?" the bench asked.

The bench added, "Tell us for the sake of the country how you are going to spend it. Rs 77,000 is a huge amount. What's your plan?"

Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni told the bench that so far, out of these Rs 91,000 crore, Rs 14,000 crore has been spent by the states and the remaining funds were lying with states and not with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The court shot back, "You ask them. States are not in a different country. They are part of India. You ask them what they propose to do with these funds."

The bench made it clear that the environment funds "cannot be treated as revenue of the Union of India or the states".

The bench said if these funds had been used in a proper manner, Delhi would not have been facing the problem of air pollution and schemes for cleaning rivers Ganga and Yamuna could have been implemented properly by the authorities.

"We are concerned about the funds; for the benefit of people as well as the environment," said the bench while observing that there has to be some supervision and monitoring of utilisation of funds.

Earlier, the bench had noted that many states had diverted the environment funds to other purposes.

After the top court's order, around 10 to 12 funds were created for environmental matters and the amount lying in them was nearly Rs 77,000 crore.

Updated Date: Jul 21, 2018 12:52:04 IST