Expressing concern over non-utilisation of Rs 77,000 crore meant for environment protection, the Supreme Court on Friday questioned Centre as to how it intends to spend the “huge amount.”
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta slammed the Centre for not utilizing the environment fund. The government collected Rs 91,000 crore as the environment fund, but has spent only Rs 14,000 crore, it noted.
“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 has gone. Maybe, the fund was used for good purposes but now Rs 77,000 crore is left.
“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.
It added: “Tell us for the sake of the country how are you going to spend it. Rs 77,000 is a huge amount. What’s your plan?”
Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. 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.”
“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.