One month has passed since India has announced a total lockdown nationwide but the profound effect of this lockdown on the environment is something very few people had imagined. Smoke releasing factories closed, private cars stopped, no public transport, airline industry at a standstill all account for this huge relief in the air quality index. The air currently is so clear that a people are viewing sights which were never possible to view before.
Aerosols are very tiny particles suspended in air but are capable of causing quite severe respiratory and cardiac complications. But, just a week into the lockdown NASA satellite sensors recorded that the aerosol levels in Northern part of India had fallen to their 20-year low!
Seeing the clear air now in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana it is very hard to believe that just 6 months ago the air quality there was so bad due to the major seasonal event of stubble burning that schools were shut and flights were diverted. Actually, 14 Indian cities feature on the most polluted cities of the world list. Yet, since lockdown there has been remarkable improvement in the air quality across 85 of India’s largest cities.
This virus crisis, has offered a tiny glimpse into what a cleaner and greener India would look like. Hopefully it is enough to make the Indian government (Central and States) realise the importance and make more bolder and ambitious pledges towards the clean energy transition.
India has been trying to promote the clean energy revolution, but the efforts are not standing with the ambitious aim India has made for itself. It is very unlikely to achieve the goal promised by Central government of 100,000MW by 2022 and 450,000MW by 2030. As of 31 Jan 2019, India has only installed renewable power capacity of 85,908.41MW out of which merely 33,730.56MW came via Solar Power.
The subsidies for fossil fuels are currently seven times greater than those for alternative energy in India.
Main promotion feature for this renderable energy is by providing government subsidy. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) issued a report titled “Mapping India’s Energy Subsidy 2020”. It highlights the fact the the subsidies for fossil fuels are currently seven times greater than those for alternative energy in India. For the conventional coal, gas and oil the overall subsidy amounted to Rs83,134 crore while for electric vehicle and renewable sector it is totalled to just Rs11,604 crore.
This clearly indicates that after the pandemic era, India need to examine on how to increase allocations towards clean energy projects efficiently and priorities its implementation. The unemployment rates in India have reached multi-decal highs this renewable energy sector with its huge potential has the mammoth opportunity to provide India’s youth work.