Air Pollution in India and 11 Remedies | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 16th Nov 2020

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Tim Ferriss

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #243 :“Air Pollution in India and Remedies | UPSC

Air Pollution in India and Remedies | UPSC

E. SOMANATHAN
Air Pollution in India and Remedies | UPSC

Somanathan is a professor of economics and program director of the Centre for Research on the Economics of Climate, Food, Energy, and Environment, Indian Statistical Institute

      HEADLINES:

How to end Pollution

      CENTRAL THEME:

An independent regulatory agency with powers to penalise pollution can help

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Air Pollution

      MAINS QUESTION:

Do you agree with the penalisation process for mitigation of Air Pollution? How far can Independent regulatory agency with powers to penalise regulate Air Pollution during winter season. Discuss. -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Air Pollution
  • Need for an independent regulatory agency.
  • Pollution in winter
  • Pollution Targets
  • Developing a Control Strategy
  • Commission for Air Quality management in NCR

      INTRODUCTION: 

  • AIR POLLUTION CONTROL : It is the techniques employed to reduce or eliminate the emission into the atmosphere of substances that can harm the environment or human health.
  • WASTE MANAGEMENT : The control of air pollution is one of the principal areas of pollution control, along with wastewater treatmentsolid-waste management, and hazardous-waste management.
  • LITTLE PROGRESS : Some progress has been made as a result of public and media attention and government actions, just not enough yet.

The President has given his assent to The Commission for Air Quality management in NCR and adjoining areas, 2020.

  • FOCUS DISAPPEARS : Various arms of the state and judiciary take notice and announce a flurry of activity.By February, the media attention disappears.
  • NEED FOR SCIENTIFIC TEMPER : We need the scientific and technical capacity that only a securely funded independent Environmental Protection Agency can bring to shrink pollution down to nothing.

      BODY:

POLLUTION TARGETS

  • ACHIEVABLE TARGET : Pollution is very much a solvable problem.It just cannot be solved on an emergency basis.It has to be dealt with firmly and gradually.

If this is done, it can be brought down to developed-country levels within a few years.

  • WHY GRADUALLY ? : There are many sources of pollution and it would be prohibitively costly to stop them or even significantly reduce them all at once.
  • SEASONAL ATTENTION : Although crop-burning and fireworks grab attention at this time of year, they are seasonal phenomena.
  • MAJOR SOURCES : The biggest sources nationally are cooking fires, coal-fired power plants, various industries, crop residue burning, and construction and road dust.
  • SINGLE LARGEST SOURCE : Cooking fires are the single largest source. Since particles diffuse with the air and are carried by winds, they do not stay in kitchens; they contribute to pollution throughout the country.
  • GRADUAL REPLACEMENT : Dealing with all these sources will require a gradual replacement of existing technologies with new technologies.

INITIAL STEPS

  • Smoky firewood, dung and crop residues that are burnt in kitchens all over rural India and some urban slums must be replaced with LPG and induction stoves.
  • Old coal power plants must be closed and replaced with wind and solar power and batteries.

No new coal-fired power plants should be built — with renewables being cheaper, coal is obsolete for power generation. 

  • Other industries that use coal will have to gradually switch over to cleaner fuel sources such as gas or hydrogen .
  • Farmers will have to switch crops or adopt alternative methods of residue management.
  • Diesel and petrol vehicles must gradually be replaced by electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles running on power generated from renewables.

DEVELOPING A CONTROL STRATEGY

  • DETERMINE PRIORITY POLLUTANTS : The pollutants of concern for a specific location will be based on the nature of the associated health or environmental effects.
  • IDENTIFICATION OF THE SOURCES : Identify measures to control sources of pollution.
  • CONTROL STRATEGY : The written plan should include implementation dates.
  • INVOLVE THE PUBLICInvite input from and including the general public when developing the control strategy will streamline implementation.
  • COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT PROGRAMS : These programs are very important to include and help owners or operators of sources understand the requirements.

CONTROLLING SOURCES OF POLLUTION

  • POLLUTION PREVENTION : Approaches to reduce, eliminate, or prevent pollution at its source, should be considered.
  • CLEAN AIR TECHNOLOGY CENTER : It should serves as a resource on air pollution prevention and control technologies, including their use, effectiveness and cost.(Redesigning SAFAR)

EXAMPLE
Mechanical collectors, wet scrubbers, fabric filters (baghouses), electrostatic precipitators, combustion systems (thermal oxidizers) and biological degradation.

Air Pollution in India and 11 Remedies | UPSC

ELECTROSTATIC PRECIPITATOR | SOURCES : BRITANNICA

  • ECONOMIC INCENTIVES :  Such as emissions trading, banking, and emissions caps can be used.

CLEAN INVESTMENT AND GOVERNANCE

  • APPROACH : The good news is it is easy for states to make clean investments more profitable and dirty investments less profitable.
  • TAX AND SUBSIDIES : All that needs to be done is to tax polluting activities and subsidise clean investments.
  • LEVY POLLUTION CESS : Our existing laws do not allow the central and state pollution boards to levy pollution fee or cess based on pollution emissions.
  • EMPOWERING COURTS : The judiciary is more powerful but has far less scientific and technical competence.
  • POOR STAFF : It does not have even the few scientific and technical staff available to our under-funded pollution control boards.
  • CAPACITY BUILDING : There is no capacity to conduct pollution monitoring or scientific studies or even evaluate the results.

It tends to act only during crises and focus on past mistakes rather than planning to prevent new ones.

  • PENAL ACTION : Pollution fees can start small, and the EPA can announce that they will rise by a certain percentage every year.

COLLECTING A CESS/FEE

  • TARGETING PRODUCTION CHAIN : Fees should be levied where the production chain is most concentrated.

EXAMPLE
A fee on fly ash or sulphur dioxide emitted by coal power plants, and a fee on coal use etc. 

This gives businesses time to adjust — they will then find it profitable to make new investments in non-polluting technologies.
 

KEY FOCUS AREAS

  • SWACHH INDHAN, BEHTAR JEEVAN : The PM Ujjwala Yojna that increased LPG access has made a big difference to the pollution from cooking fires although there is still a long way to go.
  • VEHICLE EMISSIONS : The BS-VI regulations will reduce vehicular pollution over the next decade.

We need to create the institutions that will multiply these successes.

  • HIGH-TECH MACHINERY : We need the scientific and technical capacity that only a securely funded independent EPA can bring to shrink pollution down to nothing.

      IASbhai Windup: 

STRUCTURE OF EPA

  • INDEPENDENCE : The EPA has to be given some independence — an effective criteria can be a head appointed for a five-year term removable only by impeachment.
  • IMPARTIALITY :  a guaranteed budget funded by a small percentage tax on all industries, and autonomy to hire staff and to set pollution fees after justification through scientific studies.
  • JURISDICTION : EPA independence will mean that political lobbying by affected industries to stop pollution fees won’t work.

The problem is that investments in all these technological changes, although hugely beneficial for the country as a whole, are often not privately profitable at present.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Air Pollution in India and Remedies | UPSC

 

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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