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Government Actions this week

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Combine harvester owners refuse directions for straw management system

The judiciary in Delhi ordered Punjab officials to get the farmers to stop straw burning, but feisty farmers won’t listen. 
The bureaucracy then ordered harvesters to change their machines, but farmers refused even that! Strangely no one seems to have heard of markets or incentives.  The purchase of straw, subsidy for harvester conversion, are only two of many economic solutions to the problem.



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Arvind Subramanian slams carbon imperialism

The Chief Economic Advisor says coal will remain the major source of energy for many years to come.  If he is right, then it means his government messed up.
Tens of thousands of crores of rupees worth clean environment funds were recently re-allocated to the newly instituted Generalized Sales Tax.  If coal is going to remain important, the funds should have been immediately used for cleaning up the highly polluting coal power plants of the public sector.  This government is speaking in two voices on the environment. On the one hand, it has moved admirably on BSVI standards, LED bulbs and solar power.



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Government invites global bids for 10,000 electric cars

Government to purchase and operate ten thousand electric cars for its staff. A brave move indeed.
Ten thousand cars for its staff is an interesting move by the Central Government to test the feasibility of electric cars.  If all these cars are located in a single city (say New Delhi) then such a large concentration would encourage the building up of complementary and support services.  But if the government spreads these across India the necessary learning and creation of a supportive ecosystem would be compromised.  Implementation, not ideas, has till now been this governments biggest weakness and so the concern.



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Disempowering NGT: Money Bill deception

The government used the Finance Bill 2017 to weaken the NGT through increased bureaucratic controls on staffing and other measures.
Unseen by most, the government introduced scores of legislations through the Finance Bill 2017 and one of them also impacted the NGT.  The author of this article, who works for Civil Liberties group PUCL, asserts that this will weaken the NGT.  I believe that this is a grey area, but given the lack of an environmental vision emanating from the government, the NGT is the only powerful environmental body we have.



Initiatives


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Passing on regulatory burdens to people is recipe for disaster

Harsh Vardhan is a much respected and liked political leader from Delhi, but India’s environmental minister fails when he asks citizens to behave responsibly.
The bulk of the pollution is caused by citizens making the best choices among options available to them.  And therefore it is easy to exhort citizens to behave morally and in common interest.  Far more difficult is to take responsibility – the Environment Ministry would do well to look inwards and exhort its own units and departments to provide the right environment to the citizens.



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Subsidies for wind and solar energy are already paying for themselves

Solar breaks another barrier – health and mortality benefits more than make up for subsidies in the US.
An oft repeated argument is that solar power’s spread rests on subsidies.  A study by the respected Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that solar power has already created far greater savings in health and life than was spent to subsidize it.  With costs of solar continuing to fall, expect much more in this space.



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India Is The Worlds Dumping Yard For E- Waste

All those electronics around you, including the screen where this text is displayed, will likely end up in a landfill slowly causing intense damage.
This is not a mainstream website, and I quite liked the seriousness with which the facts have been gathered and shared. India is way up there on e-waste disposal laws. But the ongoing urban governance disaster will not enable their adequate implementation. Without empowered mayors heading local governments expect no long term solution to the waste problem.



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India leapfrogging to the edge of grid technologies

How the world of energy is changing in India and the World - in the words of the Chief Technology Officer of a global engineering major.
This newsletter typically stays away from what MNC managers say.  And that’s because many such articles are written at the behest of their PR advisors.  This one may be no different, but nevertheless, it is good to know that India is not among the global laggards and in some cases is even a leader.



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India's National Highway traffic trucking into gas age with LNG

Tata, Leyland, Mahindra, Benz all to introduce vehicles running on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
India’s commercial vehicle majors are opening up to LNG for the simple reason that the public sector Petronet is ramping up operations across India.  What their stated plans suggest is that India will have the 3-option energy for transportation mechanism – conventional petrol and diesel, LNG, and electric power. LNG typically pollutes far less than Diesel, but it is not exactly clean.



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