Skip to main content

'Irresponsible': Niti Aayog favouring energy technologies sans cost-benefit analysis

By Shankar Sharma* 

Whereas most of the recent projections done by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for India (by 2030), should have been clear to any modest observer of the Indian energy/ economy scenario, some of the data mentioned in this scenario projection should be of lot more concern to our people as compared to what has been said so far by the domestic media houses on the topic so far.
Some of such disconcerting facts, as highlighted by IEA, are:
  • India is likely to see the world's biggest rise in energy demand this decade, with demand climbing 3 per cent annually due to urbanisation and industrialisation.
  • While the push for renewable energy will see it meeting as much as 60 per cent of the growth in demand for power, coal will continue to meet a third of overall energy demand by 2030 and another quarter will be met by oil.
  • Even though India continues to make great strides with renewables deployment and efficiency policies, the sheer scale of its development means that the combined import bill for fossil fuels doubles over the next two decades, with oil by far the largest component.
  • Coal generation is projected to continue to expand in absolute terms, peaking around 2030, though its share of electricity generation falls from just below 75 per cent to 55 per cent over this period.
  • Gas imports will double to reach nearly 70 bcm by 2030 before growth moderating to reach 90 bcm by 2050.
As has been the case in the past, IEA focuses only on such dry statistics without bothering about the social and environmental consequences of such a huge growth in energy demand. IEA, rarely if ever, has discussed the social and environmental consequences to the larger society from the technologies it had advocated.
For many decades it had advocated fossil fuel technologies; and now it is advocating the nuclear power technology; in both cases it has been proved to be less than responsible. This practice can be seen as a typical Western style approach to the welfare of a society, which rarely, if ever, focuses on environmental impacts.
It should be a matter of great concern that our authorities, especially NITI Aayog, also are adopting such irresponsible advocacy on energy technologies without diligently considering costs and benefits, and hence are failing in public expectations.
But the communities in India cannot and must not commit the blunder of ignoring the social and environmental impacts. At a high level, it suffices to say that the social and environmental impacts of such a massive growth in demand for energy, are most likely to pose very serious problems to our communities across the country.
Such problems are already life threatening to many sections of our people; but sadly, it is also true that our officials and ministers are refusing to acknowledge the same. Pollution/ contamination of air, water and soil, are already clearly visible, and the annihilation of forest and fresh water resources are being reported regularly from different parts of the country.
The IEA projections that India's energy demand growth will be the highest across the globe cannot be a matter of any pride. Such a massive energy demand growth shall only mean unacceptable demand/ impacts on our natural resources (agricultural lands, forests, fresh water resources, clean air, biodiversity etc.), and consequent health and social welfare issues.
For many decades IEA had advocated fossil fuel technologies; and now it is advocating nuclear power technology
It is not only critical that as a welfare oriented and responsible society, we need to do all that is feasible to minimise such energy demand growth, but its is also essential that we start immediately to embark on clean energy transition pathway; that too by responsibly taking into account the total costs to the society of every technology/ practice needed to meet such a demand for energy on a sustainable and equitable basis. But sadly, our bureaucrats and political leaders cannot be seen as demonstrating adequate care in this regard.
In the true context of many such concerns, there is an urgent need for civil society to initiate rational debate at various levels of our society on the very issue of high GDP growth rate paradigm, which is being pursued by successive governments, and which is synonymous with the ambition of 10-30 trillion Dollar economy in the next few decades, and which will definitely lead to unsustainable demand for energy and materials at unacceptable costs to our communities.
In the larger context of true welfare of our people, it is left to civil society groups to take the necessary initiatives, such as providing credible feedback to the concerned ministries on various policy documents/ announcements, such as draft national electricity plan (2022-27/32).
The policies, omissions and commissions in the national energy sector are critically important for our future, because it is estimated by credible global agencies that about 75% of all the global GHG emissions can be directly/ indirectly attributed to the energy sector.
Hence, the highest possible efficiencies and true accountability must become the basic tenets of our energy/electricity policy. But sadly, they are the least important mandates in our governance structure.
Some of the recent news reports of importance in the larger context of consequences of high energy demand and the associated technologies, are as in the links below.
A society can continue to ignore such unambiguous signals of calamitous threats only at it own peril.
---
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst

Comments

TRENDING

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.