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Govt's tall claims on renewable energy 'not supported' by plan of action, timeline

By Shankar Sharma* 

Many of the opinion pieces, official claims, and sponsored articles, being noticed recently in our national media, can be said to suffer badly from the absence of a holistic view of true welfare of all sections of our society on a sustainable basis.
One article says: "While as a country we have been responsibly meeting our commitments to fight climate change at the same time we have been using our domestic resources prudently to ensure availability and affordability of energy."
It is too tall and an irrational claim to state that we are prudent enough in using domestic resources efficiently and responsibly. The overall efficiency in the energy sector, especially in the electricity sector, is woefully inadequate; consequently our natural resources are facing serious crises; the pollution/ contamination of air, water and soil are pretty bad; and our country is known as one of the top three carbon polluters.
It is deeply unfortunate that in all such opinion pieces, the calamitous impacts of the societal level pursuit of the ever increasing demand for materials and energy, which is obviously a consequence of the GDP growth rate paradigm, have never been discussed or even mentioned.
It is also true that on the other hand, if we care to provide adequate focus to harness the enormous potential of our renewable energy sources in decentralised mode, these concerns will come down by vast margins. But we are continuing to waste our meager resources on fossil fuels, nuclear fuels and dam based hydro power.
Despite numerous reports/ studies on the non-viability and on the lack of efficacy of carbon capture and storage (CCS), many such plants are being encouraged globally thereby indicating a bias towards avoidable corruption.
CCS technology has come to be known as hugely costly; it consumes vast amounts of energy; and there is no guarantee that it will effectively bring down the carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning to an acceptable level. Let us hope that India will not be duped into such false claims on CCS.
The tall claims and projections about the renewable energy installed capacity in the country is not supported by a clear plan of action and a diligently prepared timeline, and seem to be based mostly on focus towards large scale power parks, whereas the honest efforts to involve various sections of our society to harness the enormous potential of our renewable energy sources in decentralised mode will not only minimise the budgetary burden of government, but will also provide immense direct/ indirect benefits to the country.
Ministers are exhorting women to increase participation in RE, but much of damage to natural resources is caused by wrong policies
Let us hope the element of corruption is not the reason why our authorities are insisting on large scale power parks.
It is amusing and also unfortunate that our ministers are reported to be exhorting the women to increase participation in Renewable Energy (RE) sector and steer India's Energy Transition towards Net Zero, whereas much of the damage to our natural resources can be attributed to the wrong policies of the government in energy/ electricity sector.
If the primary focus of the Union govt. shifts to harnessing the enormous potential of our renewable energy sources in decentralised mode, India's energy transition towards Net Zero becomes smooth and also gets hastened.
It can be stated as a minor consolation for the environmentalists that Union minister RK Singh is reportedly warning of climate crisis and urging investment in green energy. At least one Union minister seems to be serious about the credible threats of climate change; although the inadequacy of the required policies/ actions by the Union government. in that context can be seen as blataly visible.
Much larger quantum of investment in green energy can come if the primary focus of the Union government shifts to harnessing the enormous potential of our renewable energy sources in decentralised mode; and not in large size RE power parks.
For the environmentalists in the country, it seems funny that, whereas, various ministers in the government keep asking the people to focus on preserving natural elements, such as wetlands, rivers and forests, it is the unsubstantiated policies, plans and actions of the Union government to encourage numerous "developmental projects" which are leading to the destruction/ accelerated erosion of these natural elements.
The Union government should make it an uncompromised policy to protect and enhance the ecological potential of the existing wetlands and rivers, but also bring into practice the critical elements of LiFE in all the activities of its own departments and agencies. People will automatically be interested to follow such practices.
And there are many media houses in the country which are too happy to carry articles/ opinion pieces providing irrational/ unsubstantiated advocacy on nuclear power, despite the continued failure/ silence by every one of the associated agencies to provide satisfactory clarifications to multiple concerns raised by civil society groups/ individuals.
And so also is the blind faith of our authorities in pumped storage projects, without ever substantiating on the various associated direct/ indirect costs to our society, and on credible and attractive alternatives available to our country.
So the mostly useless/ irrational focus of our national debates continues, whereas the vulnerable sections of our society continue to suffer.
---
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst

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