Rooftop solar for poverty alleviation
(GS-III: Energy: Renewable Solar Energy)
A new white paper proposes a scheme for rooftop solar photovoltaics (RTPV) for poverty alleviation.
Significance of RTPV for poverty alleviation in India:
Access to Electricity: Solar energy can provide access to electricity in remote areas that are not connected to the power grid, thus improving the quality of life for people living in poverty.
In China, RTPV is one of the identified 10 initiatives rolled out by the government to lift rural households out of poverty.
Cost Savings: For people living in poverty, who spend a significant portion of their income on energy, solar energy can help reduce their energy bills and save money.
Job Creation: at the lower and middle level
Improved Health: Solar energy can help reduce indoor air pollution and improve the health of people living in poverty.
Climate Change Mitigation.
High initial cost: Currently, the rooftop-subsidy programmes run by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy require consumers to bear about 60 per cent of the costs.
Roof Availability: For many poor, having roof space is a luxury.
Dependence on Weather: In areas with low sunlight, or during monsoon season, solar energy production may be limited, which can be a challenge for those relying on it for electricity.
Maintenance: Solar panels require regular maintenance, which can be a challenge for people living in poverty who may not have the resources or knowledge to maintain them.
Implementation issues: India had achievedjust 7.9 GW of installed rooftop solar capacity as of June 2022 (against a previous target of 40 GW by 2022).
The government has extended the timeline for achieving its target of 40000 MW (40 GW) rooftop solar (RTS) capacity addition, by March 2026.
Gujarat, Maharashtra and Haryana statesare leading the way
Grid-Connected Rooftop Solar Scheme
Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM): for grid-connected Renewable Energy power plants/Solar water pumps/grid-connected agriculture pumps)
National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy 2018::To provide a framework for the promotion of large grid-connected wind-solar PV hybrid systems
Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY, 2016): for the installation of solar street lighting (SSL) systems in states with less than 50% of households covered with grid power
National Solar Mission(a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change)
Surya Mitra Skill Development Programme:To provide skill training to rural youth in handling solar installations.
International Solar Alliance:
One Sun, One World, One Grid (OSOWOG): a framework for facilitating global cooperation, for interconnected renewable energy resources.
What is the proposed scheme for RPTVs?
The report proposes a Central government-sponsored scheme in the field of RTPV. It could be called Sooraj Se Rozgaari.
Under the proposed scheme, IREDA will purchase RTPV modules in bulk and transfer them to states at a cheaper cost. Low-income households do not have to pay for any share of the costs of RTPV installation and maintenance. Social/institutional/small businesses bear 80 per cent of the costs, and households with regular incomes bear 60 per cent.
India can become a biodiversity champion
(GS-III: Environment, Conservation)
India currently hosts 17% of the planet’s human population and 17% of the global area in biodiversity hotspots, placing it at the helm to guide the planet in becoming biodiversity champion.
Programmes launched in India towards biodiversity conservation:
The Union Budget 2023: It mentioned “Green Growth” as one of the seven priorities/Saptarishis.
The National Mission for a Green India: It aims to increase forest cover on degraded lands and protect existing forested lands.
The Green Credit Programme: It incentivises environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by companies, individuals and local bodies.
The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI): It is significant because of the importance of mangroves and coastal ecosystems in mitigating climate change.
The PM Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment, and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PM-PRANAM): It aims to reduce inputs of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, which is critical for sustaining agriculture.
The Amrit Dharohar scheme: It is expected to encourage optimal use of wetlands and enhance biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities.
The recent intervention by the Union Ministry of Environment to stop the draining of Haiderpur, a Ramsar wetland in UP, to safeguard migratory waterfowl is encouraging.
All the above initiatives are critical, as the country is facing serious losses of natural assets such as soils, land, water, and biodiversity.
At the UN Biodiversity Conference (2022) in Montreal, Canada, 188 country representatives adopted an agreement known as the 30×30 pledge.
It aims to “halt and reverse” biodiversity loss by conserving 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Challenges faced by India: Climate change → Global warming → Increases pest attack and diseases in crops/higher demands for water → reducing farm yields.
Way ahead for these programmes to address the current state of biodiversity:
Evidence-based implementation: It is critical not only for the success of these efforts but also for the documentation of lessons learnt for replication.
New programmes: Should effectively use modern concepts of sustainability and valuation of ecosystems that consider ecological-cultural-sociological aspects of our biological wealth.
Reduction in water use in key sectors: Such as agriculture by encouraging –
Ecological restoration rather than tree plantation: As far as the Green India Mission is concerned, choosing sites to ensure ecological connectivity in landscapes fragmented by linear infrastructure.
Local community involvement: Traditional knowledge and practices of these communities (local and nomadic) should be integrated into the implementation plans.
Each programme should include significant educational/research funding: To critically appraise and bring awareness to India’s biological wealth.
The sum and variation of our biological wealth/biodiversity are essential to the future of this planet.
With this in mind, the Indian govt. is planning to launch the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing soon, using the power of interdisciplinary knowledge for greening India and its economy.
New policy to help Indian communities displaced by annual river & coastal erosion drafted
(GS-III: Disaster Management)
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) received the final inputs on the draft of India’s first national policy for the mitigation and rehabilitation of the people affected by river and coastal erosion.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had directed NDMA to draft a policy based on the 15th Finance Commission’s report (2021).
Until now, most policies in the country only address displacement after sudden rapid-onset disasters such as floods and cyclones.
Highlights of the 15th Finance Commission’s report:
It introduces mitigation measures to prevent erosion under the National Disaster Mitigation Fund (NDMF), with an allocation of Rs 1,500 crore for 2021-26.
For the resettlement of displaced people affected by erosion, it allocates R 1,000 crore for the same period under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
The total allocation of Rs 2,500 crore, not just for structural (construction of sea walls and embankments) but also for non-structural solutions (rehabilitation), is a national recognition of the problem.
For both funds, state governments will have to avail resources on a cost-sharing basis, contributing 25% (NE states – 10%) to the costs of mitigation and resettlement.
NDMA will coordinate the allocations and expenses under NDRF and NDMF at the national level.
The states must follow timelines for mitigation and rehabilitation projects without delays.
Highlights of the NDMA’s draft policy:
It put in place some institutional mechanisms to manage displacement, which can be enacted under the Disaster Management Act 2005.
Mapping coastal and river erosion impacts and coming up with a database of diverse challenges confronted by the affected and vulnerable habitations.
District disaster management authorities (DDMA) would be the nodal agency to implement the measures, aided by other district agencies and a specific panchayat-level committee.
The DDMA will prepare mitigation and rehabilitation plans → SDMAs → NDMA → the home ministry will approve the disbursal of funds.
A qualified disaster management professional must be included in all teams.
Projects under NDRF and NDMF should be sanctioned in such a manner that they can be completed within the award period of the Commission.
The policy considers only erosion-linked displacement, but there is displacement owing to the deposition of eroded materials.
It is not clear what the financial allocation (on a first-come, first-serve/on population density basis) will be under the policy.
Detailed hazard assessments carried out by central agencies such as the National Centre for Coast Research, etc., be made available to the SDMAs.
Mapping of fallow areas must be taken up for rehabilitation.
These should be made available in easy-to-access geographic information systems (GIS) formats by the NDMA.