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Government Actions this week

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Kerala Government has launched E-waste disposal in state schools

Successful e-waste collection from school runs into thousands of tonnes in Kerala.
E-waste is rarely thrown on a day-to-day basis. A novel method of periodic e-waste collection from schools, therefore, becomes feasible. Though such a project will generate massive public awareness through children and their families, it will be difficult to sustain. Eventually, waste-collection will have to be done directly from point of origin.



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Punjab to shut down state-owned thermal power plants

Finally good news from Punjab. The state government has decided to shut down its dirty coal based power plant.
Punjab is a power surplus state and rarely uses its thermal coal based power plants. Shutting them down, therefore, is both feasible and economically advantageous. While this needs to be welcomed, the decision only highlights our view that governments in India only take easy and cost-less decisions.



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Thiruvananthapuram corporation to reduces user fee for collecting waste

A demand responsive waste collection mechanism is working just fine in Trivandrum.
The Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum with apologies) instituted inordinately high user charges to pay for the high cost of garbage management.   It has bowed to public pressure and reduced charges to more manageable levels, but that leaves the age old question.  How will Trivandrum pay for the high costs of garbage collection and disposal?
 



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Delhi High Court asks Centre whether it wants to wind up NGT

Vacancies galore in the National Green Tribunal.
Why are there so many vacancies in the NGT?  Obviously, its orders get in the way of the government, and so the latter can be easily accused of deliberately weakening the NGT.  But vacancies in government, defence forces, police, and also the judiciary have been a problem for many decades.  And so it need not be a problem of intention, but simply a problem of different priorities and government laziness.



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NITI Aayog wants relaxed e-waste norms

The Niti Aayog goes Loco.
India’s premier think-tank outdoes itself every week and just when we think it could not come up with something crazier, it breaks new ground.  And now it wants to relax India’s e-waste policy.  E-waste is only just beginning to significantly impact the environment and will soon become among the premier polluters in the country.  The state needs to work with industry and importers and local governments to implement a good method of collection, recycling, and disposal.  It is time to make e-waste collection more efficient, not have less of it.



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Don’t ban sale of BS-IV vehicles after BS-VI comes in force: Centre to SC

The government wants to delay the end of BS4 with the judiciary’s help.
The government has come out in support of the auto manufacturers and wants BS4s 2020 deadline to apply to production.  Which means manufacturers can produce the low-cost more-polluting BS4 vehicles and sell them after the 2020 deadline as well.  For a 5-10% one-time profit jump the environment will be harmed forever.  Rather than come out in favour of auto-manufacturers the government should push its public sector companies to start supplying the clean fuel two years before the deadline.



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Centre tells SC no proof of bad air killing people

The Government of India has no ‘proof’ of bad air killing Indians.
Global studies are not good enough for Indians, and Indian studies are not there for the government.  Neither does the current government not believe in the veracity of international studies nor do its bureaucrats assign studies to acceptable Indian entities.  Why has there been no such studies for so many years?  It does not take that long to conduct a study, whether the current or the previous governments all are answerable, and especially the bureaucrats who have manned the health and environment ministries.



Initiatives


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Towards an electric vehicles only future

India’s move towards an electric vehicle only future is a step in the right direction.
The government is moving with conviction and strength on its electric only by 2030 vehicle policy. For this, the ISRO has been pushed to share its batteries technology, and PSEs are planning to put up e-charging points on highways and cities.  There is of course much more. But all of these are culled from ad hoc news items.  An electric-vehicle only 2030 policy requires a detailed plan of action and definition of roles and responsibilities. Hopefully, that will be created and made public soon.



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Power transmission to catalyse climate change goals

A focus on renewables will rest upon electricity distribution network which thankfully is changing.
A good story on how India’s transmission mechanism is undergoing a change, being led by the Power Grid Corporation and with support from many private sector players.  Electricity distribution would need to be highly different in the future where electricity would be produced and consumed by households and large amounts would need to be withdrawn from generation plants in the hinterlands.  But the investment today will be well worth the effort.
 



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Why you aren't ready for pollution season

Expect no major difference in pollution this winter. Unless the wind God Vayu helps out.
The government has no doubt put in place an emergency response mechanism, and the courts are no doubt trying to get the farmers to stop burning their fields.  The government otherwise has done little that will impact pollution this winter.  Cleaner fuel, power plants, construction dust, better quality roads, and universal use of LPG or electricity for cooking, could have helped.  Technologies exist, funding possibilities exist, laws exist, but why do successive governments not act?



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