India Green News is a selection of news highlights about environmental and energy issues in India
Compiled by Nehmat Kaur, India Representative
May 1st – May 29th
NEW YORK: UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon "very much" hopes that Narendra Modi attends the UN General Assembly here later this year and particularly participate in the climate change summit, a top official of the world body said today.
"We would very much hope that Modi would come to the General Assembly and especially attend the Secretary General's climate change summit. India has a big role to play on the issue of climate change and it has very important contributions to make and we would hope to see him here in New York in September for the summit," Ban's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told PTI.
Dujarric's made the remarks when asked about whether the UN Chief has spoken to Modi following his election as India's Prime Minister and invited him to visit the UN.
Ban had last week commended the Indian government, its people and the political parties on peacefully conducting its general elections in which the BJP had registered a historic win.
Ban had said the conclusion of the elections in India demonstrated once again that India's popular designation as the world's largest democracy is well deserved.
Modi has tweeted the congratulatory messages he received from world leaders on his win and appointment as India's new leader.
In a tweet, Modi had expressed gratitude to the UN Chief "for his good wishes" and said "India values our long and proud relationship with the UN. We will continue our active contribution to the @UN & work with all the nations towards world peace & development."
US President Barack Obama also has spoken with Modi, congratulating him on his win and extending an invitation to him to visit the US at the earliest opportunity.
(Business Standard, 05/21/2014)
Green India Mission Gets Appointment Blues
NEW DELHI: The much-delayed 13,000-crore Green India Mission has run into rough weather, on a controversial decision nominating an IAS officer to head it, despite a Union cabinet decision that it should be headed by someone from the Indian Forest Service (IFS).
It was to be one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, decided in 2008. This is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the country by greening five million hectares of forests by 2022. After a long gestation period, the Mission was finally approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in February this year. The project promises to substantially swell the environment ministry’s budget. For this year, the latter is only a fifth of the allocated Mission funds.
The Mission, while seeking convergence of funds from different sources, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme, is to be run through the forest bureaucracy across the country. Keeping that in mind, the cabinet had preferred that a forest officer of the rank of Additional Director General head the mission, and that a separate Special Vehicle Society not be created.
But, on April 25, an IAS officer of the rank of additional secretary was appointed Mission Director by the ministry. This led to protests by the forest service officers. The IFS Association wrote to Union environment minister Veerappa Moily on May 5, a copy of which is with Business Standard, stating their displeasure (officers also met the minister personally) “...(appointment pays) utter disregard to the said (cabinet) approval…It is humbly requested that CCEA’s decision on the matter is respected and to ensure smooth implementation in the field…”
After hearing their plea, Moily on May 8 ordered the earlier order appointing the IAS officer be reversed and a forest officer be appointed. Business Standard has accessed a copy. “It is desirable that an IFS officer of the rank of Additional Director of Forests in the ministry is nominated as Mission Director for smooth functioning of this forestry scheme. Since the Mission will be implemented by the state forest department, it will smoothen the functioning of the Mission at central and state level,” the letter said.
A week after this order, the ministry is yet to comply with Moily’s directives. It would be for the next government to take a call on the turf battle between the two lobbies over the lucrative Mission.
(Business Standard, 05/17/2014)
NEW DELHI: The Australian weather bureau on Tuesday declared an El Nino alert, saying there was at least a 70% chance of occurrence of the weather pattern that's also linked to weak monsoons in India, with some climate models predicting it could set in as early as July.
There's consensus among international weather agencies that an El Nino would occur this year, but its timing and intensity remains uncertain. An early onset could spell further bad news for the Indian monsoon, as it has the potential of impacting rains over a longer period.
"Climate models surveyed by the bureau suggest El Nino development is possible as early as July... We are at El Nino 'Alert' level," the bureau said in the update, upgrading the El Nino status from 'Watch' (where models predict a 50% chance of the event).
Indian forecasters said any prediction about the onset of El Nino was premature. "There is consensus about El Nino occurring some time during the monsoon season but there's uncertainty yet about when it would develop and how strong it would be," said D Sivananda Pai, the lead monsoon forecaster in India Meteorological Department.
El Nino is a warming of waters in east and central equatorial Pacific, taking place once every two to seven years, which sets off changes in weather patterns in many parts of the world. All drought years in India in recent decades have occurred during El Nino years but not all El Nino years have led to drought in the country.
There are also indications that the upcoming El Nino could be the strongest since 1997-98. A University of Hawaii bulletin released on April 23 said ocean and atmospheric indicators were suggestive of a strong El Nino. The strength of the event is measured by the extent of warming.
IMD has predicted a below normal monsoon this year, saying rains were likely to be 95% of the long term average.
(Times of India, 05/07/2014)
Even as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that the monsoon will be “below normal” this year, researchers at Stanford University, California, have concluded that monsoon in India is becoming more extreme, with significant increase in both wet and dry spells. They have said that such conditions increase the risk of floods and droughts.
“The South Asian summer monsoon directly affects the lives of one-sixth of the world’s population. There is substantial variability within the monsoon season, including fluctuations between periods of heavy rainfall and low rainfall. These fluctuations can cause extreme dry and wet conditions that adversely impact agricultural yields, water resources, infrastructure and human systems,” says the paper, which has been published in the journal, Nature Climate Change.
“The findings are crucial as continuing trends in wet spells can imply increased flooding risk in parts of the region. As we have seen recently in many parts of India, this can lead to loss of lives, spread of diseases and destruction of property… Further, increase in dry spells can also have substantial impact on crop yields, as has been noted in many places including Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh,” said Deepti Singh, lead author of the paper, from the Department of Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University, in an interview with The Indian Express.
She said that based on discussions with researchers at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the duration and frequency of dry spells can be extremely important early in the agricultural cycle (July-August).
The paper uses statistical methods to analyse changes in several rainfall characteristics between two 30-year periods — 1951-1980 and 1981-2011. The data, collected from the IMD, shows that when rainfall occurs, it is much heavier. Moreover, there are several more periods of below-normal rainfall during the peak-monsoon months, although they may not be as severe.
These results suggest that combined with increasing exposure and vulnerability associated with rapid population growth, land-use change and groundwater depletion, these changing climatic extremes are likely to pose a greater disaster risk to the region. “The observed changes are relevant for managing climate related risks, with particular relevance for water resources, agriculture, disaster preparedness and infrastructure planning,” the paper concludes.
“These results suggest that we are already seeing significant changes similar to what are expected in response to increased greenhouse gas warming. They support anecdotal evidence of climate change by farmers. Some local governments have already had to deal with the consequences of these changes, including the increasing incidences of farmer suicides,” said Singh.
(Indian Express, 05/02/2014)
We need to reform energy pricing structures: Prabhu
Former power minister and current chairperson of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, Suresh Prabhu, in an interview with The Indian Express, spells out his roadmap for the energy sector. Excerpts:
Reforms to expect in energy sector: Now that the dust of the historic elections have settled, it is time to start rebuilding India’s economy and empowering its society.
With a clear majority for the NDA coalition, India has the opportunity to take decisive action with regard to one of the most important stumbling blocks to its renewed and sustained growth — energy. A multi-pronged strategy could make us mukt of inflation pressures, balance of payment pressures and security pressures while yielding greater opportunities for India’s “energy swaraj”. We require a strategic focus on energy matters for boosting growth, creating jobs, checking inflation, improving social development, and for India’s standing in the world.
With rising incomes there is also rising demand for more and better quality of energy. Yet, we are still unable to provide electricity to 80 million households. Analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) found that the absence of sufficient modern energy sources means that consumption of traditional biomass keeps increasing even with rising incomes in rural areas. Energy access is not just a problem associated with poverty and inequality. There are deep structural bottlenecks to supply.
On gas pricing: We need to reform our pricing structures for energy. In our polity, it is difficult to administer shock therapy but we also have to be conscious of necessary reform. Inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and poor targeting of subsidies has ensured that the poor do not benefit while our economy’s macroeconomic conditions worsen.
Pricing reform would need to find balance in three areas: prices that encourage upstream investment while not overburdening the consumer; prices that balance notional energy costs with the real costs on the environment; and prices that balance current economic pressures with those that create opportunities for energy transitions for the future.
Further, our rising dependence on fossil fuel imports makes our economy vulnerable and compromises our national security. We will have to broaden our import horizon through a combination better integration in global energy markets and building an optimal supply infrastructure.
Also, we need greater policy clarity to ensure time-bound statutory clearances for exploration projects and create a level playing field for India and foreign firms willing to invest in exploration and production.
Further, infrastructure bottlenecks in the railway network undermine higher coal production while underutilised and concentrated pipeline network prevents expansion of gas supply to demand centres.
Structural reforms: One approach would be to gradually turn our focus to gas, which (if extracted properly) has half the carbon content as coal-based power. Also, an energy transition will also mean a growing share of renewable energy. India’s renewable energy aspirations have many drivers — greater energy access, energy security, responding to local environmental challenges and addressing global climate change risks.
India now has more than 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind power and more than 2 GW of solar power (the latter in just three years, in large part due to installations in Gujarat and Rajasthan). Yet, we have not yet established a robust financing ecosystem for renewable energy projects. CEEW’s evaluation of India’s green industrial policy reveals that incentives such as feed-in tariffs and generation based incentives have had less success than preferential tax treatment and income tax holidays.
This is because project developers are worried about the enforcement of contracts and the financial health of state utilities. This has ensured that there is little confidence in the enforcement of renewable purchase obligations and little activity in the renewable energy certificates market. For a country with 30 days of sunshine and upwards of 100 GW of wind potential, it is a shame that we have not addressed such policy barriers adequately.
Manufacturing and job creation: Renewable energy can be an important component of India’s manufacturing revival. This is not to suggest that India should turn protectionist and impose trade barriers. In fact, we have benefited from the imports of solar panels, whose prices have rapidly fallen in recent years.
At the same time, we need not be wholly dependent on imports as well and could, instead, build an R&D and manufacturing base which leverages opportunities in a global market. The top ten importers of solar equipment in the world are also the top ten exporters. India should be part of this global supply chain.
We should promote a Solar Club, bringing together the world’s main countries with solar potential and the world’s leading countries with solar technologies. Such an “S-30” could create a larger market for solar deployment, deepen cross-border manufacturing opportunities, and drive prices down. If we can create conditions for Indian firms to create value across the supply chain, then we would also manage to tap into larger opportunities for job creation in balance of systems, project installation, project management, and servicing and maintenance.
(Indian Express, 05/21/2014)
Gujarat’s solar success may shine on nation
CHENNAI: The renewable energy industry has welcomed the prospect of a BJP-led NDA Government as it feels that Narendra Modi understands the industry well.
Industry experts have also taken note of the fact that the BJP has had a ‘Non Conventional Energy Cell’ for a couple of years now, which, according to a member of the cell, will be rejuvenated and expanded now.
On the rise
As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi oversaw the creation of over 900 MW of solar power capacity in the State, which is more than a third of the total capacity in the entire country. In recent years, wind power has also been on the rise in Gujarat.
Vineet Mittal, Co-Chair of the Assocham Renewable Energy Committee and Vice-Chairman of Welspun Renewable Energy, expects Gujarat’s success in solar to be replicated across the country.
“One example that stands out,” Mittal said of Modi’s governance in Gujarat, “is his stance on solar policy.” Welspun, which owns about 300 MW of solar power capacity, is the largest solar company in India; it is also in the process of installing 126 MW of wind capacity in Maharashtra.
Pashupathy Gopalan, who heads Asia-Pacific, West Asia and South Africa operations of the US solar major SunEdison, expects Modi to make a “dramatic change” to the solar industry in India, since he (Modi) knows the solar industry “very, very well” and has taken some “pioneering steps” in solar in Gujarat.
Gopalan was referring to the Narmada canal-top project — the first of its kind in the country — where SunEdison put up a solar project on top of the canal. Gopalan says Modi saw huge small-business potential along the canal, since both water and electricity would be available close at hand.
Another Modi-initiative in Gujarat was the ‘rent-your-roof’ concept, where households rent their roofs for companies like SunEdison to put up solar projects.
Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a think-tank, expects that ‘renewable energy’ would be given a “significant push” within the “strategic focus” he expects the new government to give to energy security.
Ghosh said that the new government could be expected to address issues such as land acquisition and bring about innovative financing for renewable energy projects.
Renewable energy cell
BJP’s renewable energy cell, at present active in just a few states (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Odisha) is expected to be expanded across the country, with district level units. These units will provide inputs to the Minister for New and Renewable Energy on problems at the district level.
One issue the cell is searching into is ‘why bio-diesel is not taking off in India’, said the member of the cell.
India today has a little over 2,630 MW of solar and about 20,000 MW of wind power capacity. The growth in both these major has been far below potential. As much as 2,146 MW of wind and 948 MW of solar capacity were added in 2013-14, but experts say that lot more was possible.
(Hindu Business Line, 05/18/2014)
NEW DELHI: India is likely to impose a steep duty on importers of solar cells following vociferous complaints from domestic manufacturers, threatening the viability of about 4,000 Mw of recently tendered solar power projects across the country.
Although the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) did not disclose the numbers, the officials said on the condition of anonymity that the duty is likely to be high given that the initial investigation has found the dumping rate to be about 80%.
Even a minimal amount of duty could escalate the cost of solar power production by at least Rs 1.5 crore per Mw from the current Rs 7-8 crore, said an MNRE official.
"Solar projects under both solar mission and state projects will get stuck when the prices go up if a dumping duty is imposed. The state governments have written to us earlier saying that if the cost goes up, they might scrap their solar programmes," the official said, adding that this could lead to a big contractual problem since it was not possible to retract the power purchase agreement after signing it.
In a letter written to the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), the executing body of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), a group of solar power producers said that power generation and transmission being a pass-through activity, the increased cost of power production would be borne by the consumers. "Any increase in cost of projects or cost of generation will directly result in increase of power tariff to the consumers.
Therefore, keeping the objectives of the government of India into consideration, the dumping duty must not be imposed on solar cells/modules," said the letter, which was reviewed by ET. Under its flagship solar programme JNNSM, the government has envisaged to make cost of solar power the same as conventional power by 2017 and have 20 Gw of solar capacity by 2022.
MNRE officials said the commerce department had not heeded their demand of clamping a stay on the case and might forward their recommendation of high antidumping duty anytime this week. "The directorate general of antidumping (DGAD) will send its recommendation of high anti-dumping duty any day this week, most likely by the middle of the month. The percentage of anti-dumping duty will be proportional to the amount of import.
China, being the biggest importer, will face the maximum heat," an official said. Commerce ministry officials had earlier told ET that they were contemplating a higher antidumping duty as the government sought to bolster manufacturing in the country.
"We may incentivise foreign producers to come up and set up operations here and create jobs, like it was done 30 years ago in the auto sector," a commerce ministry official said.
The domestic manufacturers of solar cells had alleged in their application to DGAD in 2012 that the US, China, Japan, European Union, Malaysia and Taiwan were exporting solar equipment to India at "ridiculously low prices" due to which "the local industry is bleeding".
Due to cheap imports flooding the Indian solar market, major domestic manufacturers have either shut down their facilities or have reduced production by more than half.
(Economic Times, 05/06/2014)
NEW DELHI: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is opposing the Commerce Ministry's recommendation to slap an anti-dumping duty on imported solar cells, saying "it is not the right time" to impose the levy.
Last week, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry recommended imposing a restrictive duty in the range of USD 0.11 to 0.81 per watt on solar cells imported from the US, China, Malaysia and Chinese Taipei.
A final decision on the recommendations, which is expected to provide relief for struggling domestic manufacturers, will be taken by the Finance Ministry.
"We are opposing it (anti-dumping duty). From our side, we have said that it is not the right time...Because there are a lot of projects in the pipeline," Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary at the MNRE, said here today.
The recommendation of the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD), under the Commerce Ministry, came after a one-and-a-half year probe into allegations of cheap solar cells being dumped into India.
According to Kapoor, the Finance Ministry has to take the final view on the matter. He was speaking on the sidelines of a conference organised by industry body Ficci.
Most domestic solar manufacturers have been raising concerns about the dumping of cheap solar cells into India.
As per the Indian Solar Manufacturers' Association, last year, imports of solar products into India touched Rs 6,000 crore but Indian manufacturers did not even get 2 per cent of that business.
While making the recommendations, DGAD had said the domestic industry has suffered due to the cheaper imports.
The levy would be applicable "whether or not assembled partially or fully in modules or panels or on glass or some other suitable substrates, originating in or exported" from these countries, a Commerce Ministry notification had said.
"The product under consideration has been exported to India from subject countries below its normal value, thus resulting in dumping of the product; the domestic industry has suffered material injury due to dumping of the product under consideration," the DGAD probe had said.
To protect the interests of local players, the panel proposed that Chinese imports should attract duties of USD 0.64-0.81 per watt, while the levy suggested for such cells from the US is USD 0.11 - 0.48 per watt.
Duties of USD 0.62 per watt and USD 0.59 per watt have been recommended for solar cell imports from Malaysia and Taipei, respectively.
The MNRE has been working on ways to bolster renewable energy in the country, including from solar sources. India has more than 2,600 MW of installed solar generation capacity.
(Business Standard, 05/29/2014)
NEW DELHI: Welspun Renewables Energy Private Ltd has announced the commissioning of a 19 MW solar power project in Karnataka.
“Based in Chitradurga district the project was awarded as twin solar projects of 8 MW and 11 MW. The 8 MW capacity was commissioned last year, while the balance 11 MW capacity has now been developed,” Welspun Renewables said in a statement.
“We are committed to Karnataka’s energy security targets.
As with our projects before, we have commissioned our 19 MW capacity project ahead of scheduled date, thereby fulfilling on our commitment to deliver environment friendly and efficient energy into the state grids,” Vineet Mittal, Vice Chairman, Welspun Renewables, said in the statement.
The solar installation has been developed by Welspun Renewables’ step down subsidiary Welspun Solar Kannada Private Ltd, under the Karnataka Solar policy 2011—16.
Welspun Renewables has so far built up more than 600 MW solar and wind energy capacity. It plans to develop power projects pan-India, with existing projects located in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab.
(Hindu Business Line, 05/14/2014)
Environmental Health & Governance
NEW DELHI: India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought three often-quarreling, energy-related ministries under one minister, hoping to crank up the supply of power the country needs to generate more economic growth.
The new Bharatiya Janata Party government said Tuesday that Piyush Goyal will head the power, coal and renewable energy ministries.
"The idea is clear. We need more electricity, more power," Mr. Goyal, told reporters as he became the first person to simultaneously head all three ministries. "The intention is to debottleneck the system."
He said he plans to visit and study the power network of the western state of Gujarat, which is one of the few states in India with a power surplus. It was until recently led by Mr. Modi.
"Narendra Modi was able to turn around the energy sector in Gujarat during his tenure as the chief minister of the state from all perspectives -- consumers, producers as well as in terms of transparency, " he said.
India had once planned to provide regular power to the whole country by 2012, but failed miserably because of structural problems such as coal shortages and power leakage and subsidies.
Analysts say any step to boost electricity generation should start with reviving coal production. This would reduce power outages and encourage financial institutions to lend more to the sector.
People at the power ministry as well as the utilities companies often blame the ministry of coal and its state-run monopoly Coal India Ltd. for coal shortages. In its defense, the coal ministry says it is power companies that have failed to develop their own coal blocks. The coal ministry also blames the environment ministry for delaying the approval of its mining projects.
Not to be outshined, people at the renewable energy ministry say not enough attention is paid to options other than coal.
Some analysts think having one captain for the battling ministries will help.
"For the energy sector of India to grow (it needs) quicker decision making and an integrated approach," said Sanjeev Zarbade, a vice president at Kotak Securities. "One minister for the three ministries make sense and would lead to better coordination."
(Wall Street Journal, 05/27/2014)
NEW DELHI: Air pollution is once again at worrying levels in the capital. But this time it is not particulate matter but ground-level ozone, associated with severe health impacts, that has breached the safe limit.
On Friday, the average ozone level went over 71 parts per billion in Lodhi Road and Delhi University, compared to the standard of 50ppb. Interestingly, ozone levels are way higher around certain monitoring stations than others. Scientists say these spots could be experiencing the urban heat island effect where a mix of soaring temperatures, built-up area and emissions from various sources like traffic cause ozone levels to go up.
This ozone is different from stratospheric ozone that protects the earth from harmful ultra-violet rays. The ground-level ozone that's currently wreaking havoc in certain parts of Delhi is created due to chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOX), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and carbon monoxide (CO) in the presence of sunlight and heat.
Sources of NOX and VOCs are usually industrial facilities, motor vehicle exhausts, power plants and others. Ozone levels are usually measured in eight-hourly averages (during daylight) and hourly averages. When Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology under ministry of earth sciences calculated the average for eight-hourly averages from May 11 to May 20, ozone levels were significantly high around Delhi University and Lodhi road. The temperature during this phase has been hovering around 40-43 degrees. Hourly average of ozone at 2 pm at these two spots peaked to about 103ppb on Thursday and Friday when the standard for hourly average is 90ppb.
"The variability of ozone levels is very high in Delhi. Certain areas are more affected than others which is why we are calling them urban heat islands. The temperature in these areas is also possibly higher than other parts of the city," said Gufran Beig, chief project scientist at System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), IITM.
Every summer between April and June, ozone levels go up in Delhi. "We see a clear trend of ozone levels rising around this time every year. Ozone has an immediate effect on people suffering from asthma. Which is why ozone levels are always given as part of smog alerts as school children and vulnerable population need to aware of it and stay indoors if required. Ozone is the only gas which has two sets of standards-hourly and eight hourly because high levels of ozone can have very serious health impacts," said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the clean air programme at Centre for Science and Environment.
Last year the eight-hourly average for ozone had peaked to 80-85ppb according to records with IITM. This year, too, ozone levels may increase next month.
This toxic gas which is "temperature dependent" according to scientists can have a slew of health impacts. It is associated with breathing difficulty, coughing, and sore throat, aggravate lung disease like chronic bronchitis, increased frequency of asthma attacks, damage lungs says environment protection agency.
Many urbanized parts of US and Europe are known to suffer due to high ozone levels. While PM2.5 (fine, respirable particles) levels go up in Delhi during winter, the city is now experiencing high ozone levels every summer making the population vulnerable in both seasons.
(Times of India, 05/24/2014)
India needs to invest $834 billion for lower carbon emissions by 2030
NEW DELHI: India will have to invest $834 billion in the two decades ending 2030 to reduce its emission intensity to gross domestic product by 42 per cent over 2007 levels, according to a Planning Commission expert group.
According to the final report of the expert group on low carbon strategies for inclusive growth, the massive change in the energy mix by 2030 will result in lower demand of coal at 1,278 million tonnes from estimated 1,568 million tonnes.
It has also said the measures would help in reducing demand for crude oil to 330 million tonnes from an estimated 406 million tonnes by 2030.
However, it says that the low carbon emission strategy would increase the consumption of gas in energy mix and its consumption would be increase from 187 bcm to 208 bcm.
Under the low carbon energy mix, the installed capacities of wind and solar power need to increase to 118 GW and 110 GW respectively by 2030.
According to Kirit Parikh, a former member of the Planning Commission (Energy) and head of the expert group, who released the report here today, the huge investments in low carbon strategy would have little impact on economic growth.
He opined that the Indian economy is expected to be growing at a rate of 7.03 per cent per annum till 2030 and with the investment of $834 billion over two decades on low carbon strategy, it would growth at 6.87 per cent every year.
He, however, said this investment of $834 billion at 2011 prices, would result in reduced resources for other sectors which could in turn affect the GDP growth rate.
Highlighting other observations of the study, he said that people are buying higher star-rated appliances these days which are generally more energy efficient.
The report also highlights the importance of more efficient coal power plants in future and use of renewable energy resources.
It suggested that the aim should be that at least one third of power generation by 2030 be fossil-fuel free.
It also suggested that Government of India needs to allocate more resources to the Green India Mission to enhance the stock of growing forests, and to improve provisioning of ecosystem goods and services in the country.
(Economic Times, 05/19/2014)
GENEVA: An effort by the World Health Organization to measure pollution in cities around the world has found New Delhi admits to having the dirtiest air, while Beijing's measurements, like its skies, are far from clear.
The study of 1,600 cities found air pollution had worsened since a smaller survey in 2011, especially in poorer countries, putting city-dwellers at higher risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Air pollution killed about 7 million people in 2012, making it the world's single biggest environmental health risk, the WHO, a United Nations agency, said last month.
Thirteen of the dirtiest 20 cities were Indian, with New Delhi, Patna, Gwalior and Raipur in the top four spots. The Indian capital had an annual average of 153 micrograms of small particulates, known as PM2.5, per cubic metre.
Beijing, notorious for the smog that has prompted some Anglophone residents to dub it "Greyjing", was in 77th place with a PM2.5 reading of 56, little over one-third of Delhi's pollution level.
WHO experts said the Chinese data was from 2010, the most recent year made available to them by China. But Beijing's city government began publishing hourly PM2.5 data in January 2012.
A year after it started publishing data, Beijing's air quality hit the "worst on record" according to Greenpeace, with a PM2.5 reading as high as 900 on one occasion.
Beijing's government said last month that PM2.5 concentrations stood at a daily average of 89.5 micrograms per cubic metre in 2013, 156 percent higher than national standards. Such a reading would put Beijing 17th in the WHO database. The WHO says there is no safe level for PM2.5 pollution.
At the cleaner end of the table, 32 cities reported a PM2.5 reading of less than 5. Three-quarters of those were Canadian, including Vancouver, one was Hafnarfjordur in Iceland and the other seven were American.
WHO experts insisted the survey was not intended to name and shame the dirtiest cities, since the cities involved were volunteering the information to try to help themselves clean up.
Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, said the aim was to "challenge" cities and thought the survey would help them to become more open about their dirty air, which is often caused by burning coal, smokestack industries and heavy traffic.
She rejected any suggestion that China might be cheating and said it was becoming much more sophisticated about collecting air pollution data, with a new push to clean up the big cities.
"We are very much discussing with China putting on the table the issue of air pollution. Our director general (Margaret Chan) was recently there and she declared that China was one of the countries with major problems with air pollution. We will continue discussions on that to make sure that relevant measures are in place to reduce air pollution."
CPCB contests WHO findings but says Delhi pollution a concernNEW DELHI: Pollution level in Delhi is a "matter of concern", the country's anti-pollution watchdog today admitted but disagreed with a WHO study findings that the national capital has the world's dirtiest air.
Days after a WHO study of 1,600 cities found Delhi to have highest concentration of PM2.5 -- particulate matters less than 2.5 microns-- form of air pollution, which is considered most dangerous, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said despite some steps taken by Delhi government, levels of pollutants have not declined much.
"Although the actual average in Delhi (as measured by our stations) are lower than the values reported in WHO report, the variation does not undermine the fact that particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) has been a matter of concern, in Delhi," CPCB Chairman Susheel Kumar told PTI.
CPCB is a statutory organisation under the Environment Ministry entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
"The situation becomes more critical with municipality and complexity of sources and unfavourable meteorological conditions, especially low winds and mixing height during winter months," Kumar said.
He said that the prominent sources of PM emissions in Delhi include road dust re-suspension, vehicular exhaust emissions, and industries including power plants.
"It appears that the pace of growth has off-set the benefits of mitigation actions," Susheel Kumar said.
The WHO data has revealed that the situation is so bad in Delhi that its air has PM2.5 concentrations of 153 micrograms and PM10 concentrations of 286 micrograms--much more than the permissible limits.
This form of concentration consists of tiny particles that puts people at additional risk of respiratory diseases and other health problems, the World Health Organisation has said.
But, according to CPCB data for 2013, the PM10 concentration in Delhi was 237 and PM2.5 was 112. The Indian watchdog, however, also noted that the permissible limit for the two according to domestic standards was 60 and 40 respectively as against the WHO guidelines' figures of 20 and 10 respectively.
Green NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which has termed as "shocker" the latest WHO data, had demanded a response from the government "to the public health crisis".
(Business Standard, 05/19/2014)