New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2022 today (February 1), which is the second budget during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The FM started her Budget speech by acknowledging the current Omicron wave, saying that the variant is leading ‘to high incidence but milder symptoms.’ Furthermore, she said that the speed and coverage of our vaccination campaign has helped the economy recover as well. The Budget 2022 emphasised on digital healthcare in the country and announcements for strengthening the fight against climate change. Budget 2022 also focuses on addressing mental health and other important health crisis facing the country like lack of clean drinking water.
Here are the top highlights of Budget 2022 on Nutrition, Environment and Health Issues
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 60,000 crore for providing access to tap water to 3.8 crore households
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the launch of a National Tele Mental Health program, saying that COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. “An open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out. It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities. The pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. To better the access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a National Tele Mental Health program will be launched,” she said while presenting the Union Budget 2022-23 in the Parliament today. She added, “This will include a network of 23 tele mental health centres of excellence with NIMHANS being the nodal centre and IIIT Bangalore providing technical support.”
- FM also said that an open platform, for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out this year. “It will consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities,” she explained.
- For women and child development, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that 2 lakh Anganwadis will be upgraded with better facilities.
- “2023 has been announced as the International Year of Millets”, the FM announced. She further said that the government will provide support for post-harvest value addition, enhancing domestic consumption, and for branding millet products nationally and internationally.
- For the fight against climate change, the FM announced 4 pilot projects for conversion of coal to energy to be launched. Gasification of coal is a process in which coal is partially oxidated by air, oxygen, steam or carbon dioxide under controlled conditions to produce a fuel gas. “Risks of climate change are strongest externalities for the world,” said the FM. Furthermore, to facilitate domestic manufacturing of 280 gigawatt of installed solar capacity by 2030, additional allocation of Rs 19,500 crore for production linked incentive (PLI) for manufacturing of high-efficiency modules with priority to fully integrate manufacturing units to solar PV modules has been made.
- To promote a shift to the use of public transport in urban areas, FM also announced that special mobility zones with zero fossil fuel policy will be introduced. She also proposed the formulation of a battery swapping policy for Electric Vehicles (EV) charging stations.”Considering space constraints in urban areas, a ‘Battery Swapping Policy’ will be brought in,” Ms Sitharaman said. The policy will facilitate faster rollout of battery swapping centres where EV owners would be able to refuel their EV by replacing exhausted batteries with charged ones. This will also save time taken in charging the embedded batteries in EVs. At present, a few such options are available in the country and EV owners have to spend hours for charging their vehicles at charging stations especially in cities.
- The Finance Minister also announced tax reduction for people with disabilities, to ensure leaving no one behind. “The parent or guardian of a person with a disability can take an insurance scheme for such person. The present law provides for a deduction to the parent or guardian only if the lump-sum payment or annuity is available to the person with a disability on the death of the parent or guardian,” the FM said.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.