Budget positive step for energy security, say experts

Kolkata : The importance given to renewable energy and climate change adaptation in the union budget 2014-2015 has been welcomed by experts, but they feel the projects need to be executed in a proper manner.

Sectors like agriculture, the backbone of the masses’ economy in village, will receive an impetus as these areas experience the ravages of climate change first hand, they said.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Thursday announced the establishment of a ‘National Adaptation Fund’ for climate change. As an initial sum, an amount of Rs.100 crore will be transferred to the fund.

“Climate changes is a reality which all of us have to face together. Agriculture as an activity is most prone to the vagaries of climate change,” he said in the budget speech.

The experts said it was necessary for the government to implement the projects in a proper manner manner.

“We will have to wait and watch…how the plans are laid out and how beneficial will these turn out for the common man,” Mili Majumdar, director, sustainable habitats at Association for Development and Research of Sustainable Habitats, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), told IANS.

Moreover, thrust should be given on developing indigenous green technologies.

“There are two things to be considered… are you putting the money in developing technologies or in procuring technologies…It would be a lot cheaper to engineer our own technology,” Mainak Das, assistant professor, department of biological sciences and bioengineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, told IANS.

Lauding the move as “fantastic”, Joyashree Roy, initiator and co-ordinator, Global Change Programme at the Jadavpur University here, said developmental projects with respect to climate change mitigation will receive a boost which is much needed as “India is a highly impacted country”.

“This means climate change adaptation will become sustainable. It’s a step forward… as the agriculture sector is one of the sectors that is immensely affected,” Roy told IANS.

This would ensure growth and development go hand in hand with environmental protection and climate change measures, Roy said.

Echoing Roy, solar energy expert S.P. Gonchaudhury, who is also the advisor to the West Bengal state government’s power department, pointed out that as many as 0.4 billion people in India do not have access to energy.

Factoring in this gap, he said the stress on renewables was much appreciated.

In addition, Gonchaudhury said globally it was a signal that India was “committed to reducing” carbon emissions.

“Not only the UK, I think other countries like the US would be keen to invest in India on renewables,” he said.

For the renewable and clean energy sectors, Jaitley proposed to take up Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Laddakh in Jammu and Kashmir. A sum of Rs.500 crore was allocated for this purpose.

He also allocated a sum of Rs.400 crore for launching a scheme for solar power driven agricultural pump sets and water pumping stations.

An additional amount of Rs.100 core has been earmarked for the development of 1 MW solar parks on the banks of canals.

Jaitley said implementation of Green Energy Corridor Projects will be accelerated in this financial year to facilitate evacuation of renewable energy across the country.

“The decision is welcome…it shows that we are moving forward keeping all concerns in mind,” Majumdar said.