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Government Actions this week

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Karnataka Becomes First Indian State To Launch EV Policy

Karnataka leads the states in developing a comprehensive electric Vehicle Policy
“Why would you really need a state-level policy for electric vehicles?”, I wondered as I clicked on this link.  But that became clear enough.  Whether it is local government regulations or battery exchange or for that matter disposal, a formal statement by the leadership enables rule-makers down the hierarchy to follow a coherent and synchronized path.  Expect other states to follow this welcome lead by Karnataka.



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Odisha pollution police shut down Vedanta’s captive power plants

In a rare occurrence, a private captive power plant is shut down for environment consideration.
This is a very rare occurrence in India, where agents of the state actually stop the illegal activity from occurring.  And this tendency is even lower so in the environment domain.  Read to see how monitoring will be required to be backed by swift action if environment rules are to be implemented.  The fact that this is Odisha, a state not normally known for the effectiveness of its law enforcing machinery, is even more welcome.



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Delhi all set to wage hi-tech war on garbage

Want to clean trash?  Throw money into it – Delhi shows India a new way!
Delhi is probably the ‘trashiest’ of all capitals in the world.  Why can the government in Delhi not figure out how to pick up the trash and dispose of it, is a mystery to many.  The central government has now decided to purchase machinery to do what humans could not – pick up and dispose of garbage.  A truly distressing story of the lengths the Indian bureaucracy goes through, to avoid imposing discipline within its own house.



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A powerful move

India loves to chart its own course and this time, it is attempting greater private involvement in coal mining.
If the government is interested in reducing dependence on dirty coal, it would do well to retain mines within the Public Sector Enterprises such as Coal India.   Any reform, re-contracting, or additional investment would be far easier.  Bringing in a greater private sector involvement will only slow down future movement away from coal.



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Things not in place yet to get rid of stubble burning

The problem of stubble burning continues and the government is unable to find a doable solution.
There are three ways a farmer would not burn his straw-stubble.  1. If he could plough the new crop even when old stubble is intact.  2. If he could plough the straw-stubble back into the ground. And  3. If he earns more from straw-stubble than it costs him to collect it.  The last requires some imagination and coordination to develop a market for straw.  The bureaucracy prefers simple subsidy as it requires least work and chances of side payments are also higher.



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State discoms playing spoiler on open access for solar power

Classic pushback from State level power distribution companies in avoiding the desirable socially beneficial action for selfish ends.
The public sector was set-up because Nehru Ji thought these commercial enterprises would function with a social motive.  How wrong he was proved by the actions of his own creation!  The government has a policy where large electricity consumers can tie-up with private suppliers including those of renewable energies. 
 



Initiatives


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Where must our solid waste go?

The policymakers really are clueless on how to handle trash.
This story is from Delhi, but it could be from any part of the country.  Overfull landfills, unsegregated garbage, mishaps and adverse health impacts, and a government that has no idea how to handle the problem.  Followed by knee-jerk announcements.  Perhaps it is time we got someone in the government to come up with a comprehensive garbage policy.  Conceivably it would give urban local governments a checklist of doable actions to take.



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Railways looks at winding up Bihar diesel project

Piyush Goyal, the new Railway Minister takes a tough yet sensible action.
Given that trains draw energy from overhead wires, electric trains are far more efficient than diesel ones.  Unlike electric cars, they do not have to bear the weight of the batteries and unlike diesel vehicles, they don’t have to carry fuel either, and so efficiency levels are far higher.  But this required him to shut down a 2-year-old diesel locomotive plant, tough decision that will pay off in the long run.  



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Environmentalists get win in US coal-climate change lawsuit

Environmentalists win an important battle against coal mines in the US.  An example for India?
Coal mining continues unabated across the world under the excuse that others will mine even if a mine is prevented from continuing.  If that argument holds then stopping a mine will only lead to the expansion in output of others.  Stopping mines from continuing is critical if the shift to renewables is to occur.



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Protesters set to rally against Australia's biggest coal project

The Adanis face strong protest in their ambitious Australian venture.
Large coal-based power plants coming up in India need supplies of coal from across the world, and Australia has significant advantages because of its relative proximity.  But coal mining is facing pressure from environmentalists as well as local communities for both global and local environmental impact.



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Rickshaws to jump start India's all-electric drive

The government decides to put 100,000 rickshaws on the street.
E-rickshaws have captured the imagination of small-town India and low-income neighborhoods unlike any other means of public transport.  The low speeds compensate for their poor safety and low weight lead to low operating expenses.  Given their success, it is sensible for the government to start-off its electric vehicle campaign with them.  If only they were not such eyesores!



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