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Green investments are essential for our survival!

Rs 10,000 Cr budget for solar energy is encouraging, but Govt must not damage apple orchards for railway expansion
12:00 AM Mar 18, 2024 IST | Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
green investments are essential for our survival

The 2024-25 Union Interim Budget has provided for a huge budgetary allocation of Rs 10,000 crores in Solar Energy. This is a more than 110% increase from Rs 4,757 crore allocated towards this sector in the financial year 2023-2024. This is seen as encouraging people towards using clean and green sources of energy.


On February 1st 2024, the Union Finance Minister Sitharaman made an announcement on enhancing the budget in the solar sector through parliament. She was presenting the interim budget 2023-24. The Union Minister also said that the Centre will offer viability gap funding (VGF) for certain wind energy projects, introduce mandatory blending of compressed biogas in natural gas products and strengthen the electric vehicle ecosystem in steps towards India’s commitments to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2070.


Soon after the massive budgetary allocation in the solar energy sector, the Government officially launched “PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana.” This scheme is projected to entail an investment of Rs 75,000 crore in India in the coming years.

Earlier while announcing the launch of this solar energy scheme on social media platform X, PM Modi reiterated the government’s commitment in providing 300 units of free power to 10 million beneficiary households.


“In order to further sustainable development and people’s well-being, we are launching the PM Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana. This project, with an investment of over Rs. 75,000 crores, aims to light up 1 crore households by providing up to 300 units of free electricity every month,” he said.
Subsidized Clean Energy


At a time when installation of smart meters is being severely criticized in J&K and people have to pay huge electricity bills, PM’s Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana will be a game changer in J&K in the coming years. The BJP led Govt at the Centre seems focussed on free or subsidized electricity.


To popularize this centrally sponsored scheme at the grassroots level, the village Panchayats and municipalities will be incentivized to promote rooftop solar systems in their respective jurisdictions. This scheme according to experts will lead to more massive decrease in the power bills and will also ensure employment generation as well.


“From substantive subsidies, which will be given directly to people’s bank accounts, to heavily concessional bank loans, the Central Government will ensure that there is no cost burden on the people. All stakeholders will be integrated into a National Online Portal which will further convenience,” PM Modi said in another post on X

60 % Subsidy on Solar Electricity

The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the interim budget said that the 10 million beneficiaries of this new scheme would be able to get 300 units of free power through the rooftop solar installations and this would result in an annual saving of Rs15,000-18,0000 per year per family approximately. The Union Finance Secretary T V Somanathan after the presentation of the budget also added that the government has provisioned Rs10,000 crore for rooftop solar in the budget.

The Union Power Minister R K Singh who also holds the charge of Ministry of New and Renewable-MNRE on February 2nd last month said the subsidy for rooftop solar installations had been hiked from 40 % to 60% under the new scheme. The Govt of India is planning to implement this scheme through Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) established by central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) designated for each state.

Electric Train in Kashmir

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated the Banihal-Sangaldan Railway Line in J&K. He flagged off the first electric train in the Kashmir Valley running from Baramulla station on February 20th 2024.

The Banihal-Sangaldan Railway Line has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 15,863 crore and is expected to revolutionize the railway transportation system in J&K. Sangaldan is located in Reasi district and this is around 48 kms from Banihal.

Very soon Sangaldan will be further connected with Katra railway station. This electric train connectivity is seen as a development as the same was much needed; plus the train won’t cause any pollution as well. But it is given to understand that new train lines are going to be set up in Kashmir valley which would impact our apple farms.


Electric trains are already running between Baramulla and Banihal. It would further be expanded to Udhampur and New Delhi via Jammu in next few months.

One understands the importance of Baramulla- Srinagar-Udhampur Railway project but to take railway lines to Pahalgam, Shopian or Uri by sacrificing so many apple orchards or green forests would prove to be disastrous.

J&K has meagre agriculture land holding and this should be considered before any new project is taken up. Jammu & Kashmir only needs green investments and that should be of prime importance to the Govt.

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is Aant Fellow for Climate Action. He is social activist , writer and independent researcher who heads Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement