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Government Actions this week

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Financial Allocations for the Environment Remain an Afterthought

How was Budget 2018?
Overall the budget allocated less in real terms on the environment. This includes allocations for the environment ministry, water, renewable energy, Swach Bharat, and what not. While the specific line items may have been given the short shrift, what matters more is whether coal power plant emissions are being cleaned up – NO, cleaner fuel is going to be supplied – YES, and waste disposal is streamlined – NO.



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Harsh Vardhan: Hope to cut air pollution in 100 cities by 50%

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Environment Minister, dreams big.
Over the next few years, the environment ministry will reduce the number of most polluted cities by half. To achieve this it will “include expanding monitoring network, conducting air pollution health impact studies, setting up of air information systems, certification of monitoring institutes, air quality forecasting systems, awareness and capacity building drives, among others.” Hidden in bureaucratese the ministry says it will monitor better. There is little else it can do.



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Policy to scrap 15 yrs old vehicles almost finalised: Nitin Gadkari

Scrap old vehicles? Will it help?
Older vehicles tend to pollute more because of greater need for maintenance and use of older technologies. Any action that promotes scrapping of older vehicles is also loved by automobile lobbies. If the government can do so efficiently, it may be a beneficent action as it will also increase the overall cost of vehicles and tend to reduce aggregate automobile ownership levels.



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India's Budget to Stop Crop Burning Inadequate

Crop burning budget barely a third of what was required.
The Niti Aayog had estimated that to stop crop burning the government needs to allocate about USD 600 million. Instead, the Central government allocated about 240 million in the Budget 2018-19. The same story continues, the government is spreading itself too thin, and is unable to either allocate resources or mind-space well enough in so many different directions. Depending on state governments to manage crop burning will not pay off.



Initiatives


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IIT Delhi sets up Centre to study air pollution in NCR region

A new centre opens-up in IIT Delhi
When established educational institutions open up focused research centres there is more hope than is usual. The IIT Delhi has now got a brand-new centre on clean air, not much more is known, but the centre would do well to suggest technological solutions to the problems of emerging economies. Globally research tends to focus on matters that are of importance to advanced economies, and these tend to be very different from the rest of the world.



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India's electric vehicle story on the verge of imploding

Does India need a policy document on electric vehicles?
There are many policy documents, however, unlike in most other countries, a policy document is just a statement of intention and has little connection with the actual action. This has been true of almost all policy documents in India whether they are on the social sector, import policy or for that matter manufacturing policy. But the industry still likes policy documents. As long as the government’s agenda is clear and unambiguous – all new vehicles to be electric by 2030 – explicit long-term policy documents can be replaced by short-term action agenda-maps.



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Millets make a comeback in rural areas

Millets for health and environment.
For many millennia the Indian farmers’ preferred crop were millets of various types. And then came the green revolution when the high yielding varieties of wheat and rice flooded out the other crops. But the HYV seeds’ rice and wheat had their own disadvantages, and millets are on their way back!



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Scientists have found that shampoo is a source of air pollution

Cosmetics pollute as well.
Not a surprising finding but it made global news, shampoo, and perfumes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which break down into fine particulate matter. And the amount of pollution can be as much as that generated by motor vehicles. Will the National Green Tribunal now mandate low VOC levels in shampoos?


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