Tackling India's Pollution Crises, Climate Commitments & SDGs Together

TOPICS :   Environment
Sep 1 , 2018 12 min read 2318 Views Likes 2 Comments
Tackling India's Pollution Crises, Climate Commitments & SDGs Together

There are multiple problems India is facing. We can achieve hat-trick development just by making our economy eco-friendly and low-carbon. Air, Water & Soil Pollution, Plastic Pollution, Waste Management, India’s overdependence on coal to power its energy grid; the soaring fuel prices due to the weakness of the Rupee to the Dollar and increasing global crude prices are some of the problems India faces in its quest to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and bring peace and prosperity to all its citizens.

Making our main source of energy renewable and climate and environment friendly can help tackle all these issues. The Indian power grid’s excessive dependence on thermal power causes air pollution, its extraction devastates lands – most of them tribal and forest lands causing social and environmental unrest as well as expressing excessive greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere adding to global warming and climate change. Now by encouraging off-grid or grid connected rooftop wind or solar power systems in rural and urban India we can immediately cut air pollution and GHG emissions while adding money to the power consumer’s pockets.



The above PBS Hot Mess video shows how changing our fuel source can immediately clean up the air quality and improve quality of life in developing countries, but what it doesn’t show is that carbon trapping technology exist, afforestation with due diligence to local-flora and fauna as well as organic ecologically rejuvenating agriculture and soil management can act as mega carbon sinks and halt and even reverse global warming. Indian seed scientist Vandana Shiva regularly talks about the power of organic farming and soil management as the apt pathway to Sustainable Development.


Our very own premier institute the IIT Bombay's Assistant Professor Vikram Vishal has refined carbon capture and storage technology – pumping pressurized GHGs into a coal bed that will absorb and trap the GHGs. There are many such carbon trapping technologies being piloted and experimented with across the globe yet the most efficient carbon sinks are our forests, soils and cooler oceans. Preserving our forests and adding to urban tree cover (Afforett, Shubendu Sharma of Bengaluru) as well as traditional reforestation generating income for the forest- and forest-edge-dwelling communities rather than Coal, Oil & Gas exploration in formerly pristine virgin forests and ecological sensitive zones make both economic, social and ecological sense.



Finally when tackling the solid waste management problem, landfills, plastic pollution and its pollution and encroachment of water bodies and oceans as well as the ever increasing prices of fuel the obvious solution is Waste to Energy (WtE) technology. Divya Priya and Ramya Selvaraj from IIT Madras have developed a mobile solar powered plastic to diesel-like fuel converting pyrolyzer. In the short term such technology can provide relief to those burdened by the fuel price hike while also creating income for the municipal workers handling waste. Segregated plastics can be tackled like this and instead of thermal power Waste to Energy incinerator stations can help tackle the solid waste problem as well as the grid’s power shortfall in the short term while it is optimized for a larger proportion of electricity generated from clean & renewable sources. Sweden and even Singapore have successfully harnessed the power of efficient incineration technology to tackle the waste problem as well as generating power from it (in the case of Sweden).



The path to prosperity for all Indians is with access to clean and affordable energy access and an environment that sustains a healthy life. Renewable Energy is the one-stop solution to multiple problems and our young Indian innovators have demonstrated that they are already finding credible solutions to these problems in their various pilot projects and green energy start-ups.


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