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Government Actions this week

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India should calibrate investment in green energy: Eco Survey

India’s economic survey calls for a slower approach to going green.
A combination of high costs and alternative needs for limited resources lie behind the economic surveys call for going slow on renewable energy.  Unfortunately, the survey does not consider the environmental or health cost of dirty coal power.  Instead, it calls attention to the loss to the banking sector if the big coal power plants were to fail.  Coal power is not only bad for the global environment but extremely harmful for local environment and health. 



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CPCB given extended producer responsibility authorisation

Why is it a big-deal who collects data on e-waste?  A big loss for federalism in environmental management.
Given the laxity in reporting and monitoring by various State Pollution Control Boards, the Central Pollution Control Board has been assigned the responsibility to monitor e-waste management measures in the states. While the problem of poorly resourced state level officialdom is well understood, centralization is not the best long term solution for India’s environment. 



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Delhi residents to pay Rs 5,000 fine for possessing plastic bags

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has taken on the task of environmental governance in India.
Globally changes related to environmental policies are driven by lobbies, in India however it is the judiciary.  First, the NGT threatened the officialdom that it would punish them for non-performance.  Now it is threatening huge fines to citizens and businesses.  If indeed the NGT can make this work, we may just have devised a new form of governance!



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No more vehicle insurance without pollution certificate

No vehicle insurance would be provided if proof of annual pollution control certificate not provided.
Is this good?  Yes, but only the first step in incentivizing owners to keep their vehicles well-tuned against polluting emissions.  Currently, few owners are getting their vehicles tested and tuned, and this would ensure 100 percent coverage.  But read the next story for why another problem needs to be addressed for complete compliance 



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India’s vehicular pollution tests are a sham

Few vehicles get tested, and those that get properly tested are may not be able to meet the standards. 
Many of us have guessed this already, pollution tests and certificates are a sham.  So then is there a solution?  Yes, there always is.  But governance rests on the presence of a state that can enforce the right practices.  The state in India has stopped the fair implementation of law either on citizens or on officialdom.  Nothing will work if we don’t get the state to work. 



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NDMCs cash-for-trash fails as contractors unable to empty containers

How Delhi’s endemic governance failure makes a mockery of its environmentally aware politicians.
The New Delhi Municipal Corporation NDMC is perhaps the best run municipal body in the country.  But well-meaning politicians, a new technology start-up, and a great idea came up short against India’s irresponsible urban managers.  They just did not give permission for a truck to empty the trash!  Much of the environmental problem in India has to do with our inability to punish the agents of the state for not taking responsibility.



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AMC thinks you are foolish, Buys diesel-burning fogging machines

Diesel based fogging is the worst form of mosquito control, and Ahmedabad’s officials know it, yet….
Why would a government use a means that is environmentally harmful (use of diesel), has adverse health effects on the masses (sprayed in residential areas), and does not work!  Spraying is a much better and cheaper solution.  Yet this is what the officialdom in Ahmedabad says, “…machines that are environment friendly don’t emanate smoke.  People have this perception that work is being carried out and they are being protected from mosquitoes only if they see smoke.”
 



Initiatives


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Economists are wrong on electric vehicle subsidies

An exciting global debate on whether it makes sense to subsidize electric vehicles.
I have elsewhere advised against subsiding electric vehicles but instead favored taxing polluting petroleum driven vehicles more.  Nevertheless, a global debate rages, and I would be amiss in my duties if I did not present the other side of the story.



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Your garbage, your responsibility, says Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram puts in place a comprehensive garbage reduction mechanism.
Scattered across India there are a few examples of pro-active city administrations who are trying to discipline the massive garbage build up.  Although few are succeeding, in every case of success the leadership has been able to both reward and punish citizens as well as contractors and city officials. Thiruvananthapuram may join a select group.



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The rise of electric cars could leave us with a big battery waste problem

Millions of electric cars, each using up half a ton of Lithium-ion batteries?  A new source of pollution.
Lithium ion batteries are costly to recycle or reuse, at the same time, they can be highly destructive to the environment.  As India move towards an electric only new vehicle regime by 2030, it needs to put in place an effective battery disposal-recycle-re-use mechanism.  The best strategy appears to be to make the vehicle sellers responsible for eco-friendly disposal of electric batteries.  



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