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Government Actions this week

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Coal consumers being taxed much less under GST

GST regime benefits coal - Central Government gains but States lose.
Coal has always been taxed much lower than it should have.  But the GST of 5% is much lower than the VAT and other taxes of the past.  This lower tax means public sector coal power companies gain, but lower collections mean state governments lose.  Coal needs to be taxed at the highest possible rate, and environment cesses imposed on top.  We need a carbon emission tax, over the new GST.



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Delhi's Air quality in July best in 27 months

Delhi finally has clean air days, but largely due to good climatic conditions. 
Are things so much better in Delhi?  Thank the rains, the winds, and high moisture content in the air.  Little has occurred on the policy front.  There are more cars and two wheelers, petrol and diesel are as dirty, construction activity at broadly similar levels, and polluting units still get away with impunity.  And government operated coal power plants in Delhi’s vicinity continue to use the same old dirty technologies.



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Expect pay cuts if stubble burning goes on: NGT

The NGT threatens to punish state level bureaucrats for inaction.  Well done.
India does not punish its bureaucrats for inaction and non-delivery.  And that arguably is the main cause behind its governments’ huge inefficiencies.  If the National Green Tribunal can carry out its threat, and punish India’s slothful bureaucrats, it would show the politicians and citizens a way forward.



Initiatives


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More than 3 lakh jobs in solar, wind projects by 2022

Hundreds of thousands of jobs to be generated in the renewable sector say think tanks.
Predictions generally go wrong, but in doing them we understand better how the future should play out.  This study finds that solar power panels over rooftops would likely be a major generator of jobs.  If so, India is far behind, but it need not be.  All that is required is electric utilities are set up to buy power from households and pay them on time.



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Gurugram civic body & RWAs to install zero waste garbage plants

Sounds too good to be true but this may just work.
The municipal government is Gurgaon is going to empower residents to manage their own waste.  The Resident Welfare Associations will at their own cost, collect, segregate, compost, and dispose-off 100% of the waste, while all that the municipal government will do is to allocate space.  Garbage can be costly and has an odour even if burnt.  Let us wish that the RWAs can manage it all.



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Building A Smarter Transport System That Eases The Daily Commute

Public transport needs to be at the centre of humanity’s socioeconomic agenda but few policymakers appreciate this.
This article is not about all round progress, it simply says that public transport and urban design need to be carefully thought through to reduce energy use and pollution.   I go a bit further, India’s problems of delivery of basic education, health and also municipal services can be ascribed to problems of urban design. 



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Indian architects using traditional wisdom to build homes of the future

Traditional architecture was pleasing to the eye, generated many jobs and was easy on the environment.  Some are trying to replicate it.
Not only is the traditional construction aesthetically and functionally highly advanced, it also tends to be easier on the environment.  Moreover, it tends to have a high spread of value add among artisans and craftsmen.  In addition to this, the traditional architecture is also much more energy efficient.  Some architects are trying to make it work in a modern setting.  But can traditional architecture once again become low cost and for the masses?  



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Electric cars are not the answer to air pollution

Electric cars may reduce but will not solve the pollution problem.
Cities need to be designed differently and public transport has to be at the centre of this redesign.  In fact, developed countries are those where even the rich use public transport.  Electric cars will generate road dust, fumes, their batteries will pollute and they will take up space.  Public transport oriented cities is the only solution.
 



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Failure to segregate waste at home may cost you

An elite group wants the government to punish residents for not segregating.
I do not agree with such recommendations.  This tendency to make the citizen responsible for everything and the state’s agents (bureaucrats) responsible for nothing has to be actively opposed.  Increasingly, however, the government is resorting to punishing businesses, citizens and even non-profit organizations for problems caused by the laxity of its bureaucrats.  This cannot be acceptable in any civilized society.
 


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