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Initiatives

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Trump administration may approve major export of natural gas to India

Now, here may be a cost effective way of reducing pollution – use cleaner fuels, and if they are not available domestically obtain them from those who have them. Natural gas is far more preferable to either coal or petroleum for thermal power. However, the KG basin is not taking off and it now appears India was over-optimistic in its predictions of producing adequate Natural Gas domestically. Perhaps, President Donald Trump would inadvertently do more for the environment than Al Gore if the US were to supply India’s growing energy needs in the form of Natural Gas.



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Ola to launch electric cabs across major cities in three months

Soon OLA expects to be running electric cabs across major Indian cities. But if that electricity requirement is going to be met by power plants running in the vicinity of cities – Badarpur in Delhi being one example – they may cause more harm than good. Nevertheless, electric vehicles are the way of the future and such a massive experiment needs to be welcomed and promoted across India.



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Nosacle, an air filtration device invented by IIT-D

Another neat innovation from within the country – the Nosacle, an air filtration device that fits into the nose. It cuts 90 percent of the pollution or so claim its IIT inventors. Well seems like a good invention, though not something we would want to share with our neighbours.



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Mobile app OpenSense uses phone sticker to measure toxic air

Another great innovation, one that measures pollution from the back of your cellophane via a stamp sized sticker. This one was developed not in India but in Imperial England, but that should not be held against it.



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New E-rickshaw to conserve non-renewable resources

This is a cool innovation that outshines many new developments – compressed air to store energy in vehicles. Batteries are expensive and made from harmful chemicals, if this experiment could work for e-rickshaws it would not only reduce costs dramatically, but also be far more feasible for small town and rural India.



Government Actions this week


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OMCs to invest Rs 90,000 cr on fuel upgrade by 2020

The government babus once again use misinformation to confuse the masses by claiming Rs 90,000 crores expenditure to improve fuel quality. Of this moving from BS4 to BS6 standard would cost 28,000 crores, the rest was largely to move from BS3 to BS4. The private refineries like Reliance and Essar have been making clean fuel for about a decade now. More importantly 28,000 crores translates to less than one rupee per litre or less than two percent of the retail price of petrol and diesel, if spread over a 3 year period.



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Stubble burning: Punjab to use satellites to spot offenders

The Wheat crop is about to be harvested and many farmers will once again be forced to burn the straw as it is too costly to collect and dispose off. But the government is one up, it wants to use satellites to catch the farmers. Only the naïve believe that this would work, and only the heartless believe that this is a desirable policy. Farmers burn straw as there is no other option, instead of punishing them, good policy would incentivise them by creating a market for straw.



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UP govt mulls blanket ban on stubble burning

UP is not too far behind Punjab and plans to ban stubble burning. This is not good environmental policy, as it will only lead to a push-back from the masses. Environmental policy needs to be about benefiting the poor with change using technology and economic incentives, not punishment. 



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Municipal corporations to file report on curbing air pollution

The National Green Tribunal NGT is doing what it was set up to do, asking various city governments to brush up their environmental acts. However well-meaning the NGT may be, this system will not benefit Indian environmental policy ecosystem in the long run, because it allows the politicians to shirk responsibility. We suggest that the NGT should be shut down and the national, state and local governments be assigned complete responsibility over environment policy.



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Steps taken to improve efficiency of coal based thermal power plants

Another one from the government – of how it is cleaning up its coal act. Coal is responsible for much of the pollution across the Gangetic plains. The combination of the west to east winds, cooler winter temperatures, dirty coal, and dirty technologies is causing much of the winter pollution problem. Dirty coal is supplied largely by PSEs, and consumed largely by PSEs using old technologies and lacking clearing equipment. Coal is also among the most profitable of sectors for the government. If these claims are actually applied universally across all PSEs, much pollution would be eliminated.



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