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India Green News: India suffers from climate change impacts but see growth and revival in renewable technologies of wind and solar.

Grace Gill Qayoumi

Posted August 1, 2013

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July 17-31, 2013

India Green News is a selection of news highlights about environmental and energy issues in India 

Climate Change

Climate change’s nasty new natural disaster: ‘Himalayan tsunamis’

NEW DELHI, INDIA—This summer’s devastating “Himalayan tsunami” is a grim omen for the future of the millions of people living downstream from the majestic mountain range.

The June floods wiped out the Hindu pilgrimage town of Kedarnath and may have killed as many as 6,000 people.

But the scale of the disaster could be dwarfed by future flooding.

“The Kedarnath floods may be only a small precursor to never-seen-before mega floods,” Maharaj K. Pandit, director of Delhi University’s Centre for Inter-disciplinary Studies of Mountain & Hill Environments, told India Today.

(, 07/31/13)

Environmental damage costing India heavy: Study

Environmental degradation is a cause for worry financially too. The World Bank has found that India, which enjoys higher economic growth than many other countries, loses at least Rs 3.75 lakh crore each year due to environmental degradation and pollution.

Lost farm produce due to land degradation, productive lives cut short because of bad water supply, poor sanitation and hygiene, and pollution are just some of the reasons determined by the World Bank for the economic loss, which amounted to 5.7 per cent of the GDP (in 2009-10).

The study commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests provides estimates of the social and financial costs of environmental damage in India.

(The Hindu Business Line, 07/18/13)

Plans to mitigate disaster, floods

GUWAHATI: The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) held a day-long inception workshop here on Thursday on its two collaborative projects with the Earth Institute of Columbia University and the Columbia Water Centre (CWC), a branch of the Earth Institute, Sustainable Urbanism International, Bangalore, IIT Delhi and IIT Guwahati.

The ASDMA is implementing two projects - disaster risk reduction, including climate change adaptation of Guwahati in the context of dynamic growth, and water resource and flood and erosion risk mitigation planning in Assam - in view of the growing changes in the urban scenario of the city and their impact on its topography.

(The Times of India, 07/26/13)

Ford joins greenhouse gas reporting programme

CHENNAI: Detroit biggie Ford on Tuesday became the first automaker to join a voluntary greenhouse gas reporting programme recently established in India. Participation in the India program builds on Ford's leadership in greenhouse gas reporting. The company already participates in similar programs in the United States, China, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Voluntary reporting provides overall transparency regarding the company's CO2 emissions and underscores the importance of the issue to Ford, which has a goal of reducing CO2 emissions at its global facilities, including two in Chennai, by 30% per vehicle by 2025. "Ford is pleased to be the first automaker to participate in the voluntary India greenhouse gas reporting program," said Andy Hobbs, director of the company's environmental quality office. "We look forward to sharing our knowledge and helping to establish greenhouse gas reporting in India."

(The Times of India, 07/23/13)

Clean Energy

Solar energy can meet Delhi's 16% power needs: Report

NEW DELHI: The national capital has the potential to fulfil 16% of its yearly power requirement through solar energy, a report released by Greenpeace India on Tuesday said.

The report, 'Rooftop Revolution: Unleashing Delhi's Solar Potential', said Delhi can generate 4,500 million kilowatt hours of solar power every year by installing photovoltaic panels on 1.6% of the city's roof space.

"The national capital is facing serious electricity crisis and tariffs have been rising steeply. Solar energy provides an alternative pathway," said Anand Prabhu Pathanjali, energy campaigner for Greenpeace India.

Releasing the report, former chief justice of Delhi high court AP Shah said the city received abundant sunlight throughout the year and the state government should mull over installing solar panels on roof tops.

(The Times of India, 07/23/13)

Wind Now Cost Competitive with Coal in India

In India, the expiration of some federal incentives for renewable energy last year has not put a damper on the outlook for wind and solar power.

Wind power is now cost competitive with new coal-fired generation in India, according to a report from HSBC [pdf]. Falling costs are just one reason for the increased interest in wind. For the first time, India has identified water as a scare natural resource in its most recent five-year plan. Nearly 90 percent of India’s industrial water demand comes from thermal power plants, according to the HSBC report.

The appeal of some renewables, such as wind and solar photovoltaic, is that they use far less water than coal, nuclear, or natural gas power plants. Across the globe, water stress is growing within the energy industry and power plants have to partially shut down when there isn’t enough water for cooling. In India, water shortages just before monsoon season in 2012 forced hydro generation and thermal power plants to partially close.

(IEEE Spectrum, 07/23/13)

AP Govt finalising green factoring building code

Hyderabad, July 18: The Andhra Pradesh Government is giving final touches to a new green factory building code that will make it mandatory for factories to implement certain green guidelines for conserving energy, water and land space.

Rajat Kumar, AP Commissioner of Industries, said the code would be applicable for new as well as existing industries. “We are ensuring that implementation of these guidelines do not impose much financial burden on factories. In fact, these measures would yield them higher returns in the long run,” he said at an international conference on Green Enterprises and Green Industrial Parks here today.

The proposed green guidelines include painting of at least 50 per cent of the roof surface with high solar reflective paint, at least 50 per cent of the car parking spaces should have a shade, certain rainwater harvesting measures and designing of windows and skylight so that more day-lighting can be accessed by the interior areas.

(The Hindu Business Line, 07/18/13)

India seeks to revive interest in wind sector

New Delhi: The government plans to revive interest in the wind energy sector by reintroducing tax and fiscal incentives that were removed last year, a move that a lobby group alleges caused a fall of 1,500 megawatts (MW) in wind power generation in 2012-13.

Specifically, the government is considering the reinstatement of accelerated depreciation benefits, which reduce tax and strengthen cash flows, and generation-based incentives (GBIs).

The Indian Wind Power Association grouping has been lobbying for such a change and the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has now drafted a note to this effect that’s being circulated among various ministries before a decision is taken at the end of the month.

“The finance ministry has agreed. We have moved a note. It will offer a huge relief to the sector and will restart the interest in wind power generation. We expect the decision to be taken within a month,” said a senior MNRE official who didn’t want to be identified.

(LiveMint, 07/25/13)

Indo-US joint research gets big, funding jumps to $220 million

BANGALORE: Vice-president Joe Biden wasn't joking when he said that India and the US have more science and technology partnerships between them than any other two countries.

A dialogue that had begun quietly seven years ago has recently blossomed into a substantial research collaboration involving roughly 100 institutions and nearly 1,000 scientists, according to officials in the Department of Science and Technology.

The committed funding from the two countries has also risen from only $2 million five years ago to $220 million. This research collaboration has begun to tackle some of the most serious challenges facing the two countries.

Nearly half of the funding goes to developing a clean energy development centre, which functions within existing Indian and US institutions.

(The Economic Times, 07/25/13)

Health and Environmental Governance

Political meddling proves toxic for pollution control boards

Environmental protection seems to be in shaky hands with political appointees nominated to head state pollution control boards (SPCB) in some places. In one case, the educational qualification of the chairperson was tenth standard.

In Karnataka, for instance, the chairperson of the SPCB is Vaman Acharya, a senior BJP leader. In Himachal Pradesh, it is Kuldip Singh Pathania, a Congress party leader and former MLA, and, in Uttar Pradesh, Waseem Ahmed Khan was the head of the board for six months till he was removed in February 2013. Khan was appointed at the behest of a political party leader.

Apart from unqualified political appointees, the SPCBs are understaffed and have little time for meetings, inspection or regulation, says the study. Chairpersons remain symbolic and data shows that except in Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Nagaland and Tripura, the average tenure of the chairperson in all other SPCBs has been less than three years. Though it is mandatory for the SPCBs to meet at least once in three months, the study finds that the meetings have not been consistent and often not well attended. They also have less than 17 members stipulated under the law. Board members should have a three-year tenure which is rare.

(The Hindu Business Line, 07/21/13)

Pollution board clears Essar project

KOLKATA: The pollution control board has cleared a major hurdle for Essar Oil Ltd, which can now go ahead with the state's biggest coal methane project. The company can continue drilling wells for the third phase of the project in Raniganj.

A few months back, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) received a public complaint that the Essar Oil authorities had drilled a well within 300 metres from Nachan village, violating environmental norms. On July 5, the WBPCB authorities inspected the site and its adjoining areas in the presence of both the complainant and the company representatives. They found that though clearances had been obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forests in February this year for the third phase of the project, a 'consent to establish' (CTE) was to be obtained from WBPCB to sort out the dispute.

(The Times of India, 07/24/13)

For more news on the issues we care about, visit our India News archive or read our other International blogs.

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