• Greater awareness needed on climate change: Baalu

  • Green is Clean

  • Greater awareness needed on climate change: Baalu

    The Hindu [14 JULY, 2002]

    CHENNAI July 13. The Eighth Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in New Delhi later this year.

    Stating this at a seminar here on Saturday, the Union Environment and Forests Minister, T.R. Baalu, said the meet, to be held during October 23-November 1, would be attended by Environment Ministers, top officials and NGOs from the world over. "It will be an important event in carrying forward the Convention process," he said.

    Mr. Baalu was inaugurating a seminar on "Climate change and industry: issues and opportunities", organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

    Pointing out that the Convention, adopted in 1992, was a global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at safer levels, Mr. Baalu said industry had a very important stake in climate change as about one-half of the global GHG emissions were contributed by it.

    Calling for greater sensitisation on various aspects of climate change that were relevant in the Indian context, he said that given the vastness of the country, regional concerns should be focussed on in-depth study of vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategies.

    C. Dasgupta, Distinguished Fellow at the TERI and former Indian envoy to China, said climate change posed challenges and opportunities for Indian industry.

    The country could make a contribution by implementing projects and measures that moderated carbon emissions and could also be independently justified in terms of their economic or environmental benefits.

    Emphasising the need for greater attention to R&D in the renewable energy sector, Mr. Dasgupta said: "We must also recognise that at some stage, we will have to accept binding commitments to restrict our greenhouse gas emissions. Long-term planning must take this into account".

    The Union Environment and Forests Secretary, P.V. Jayakrishnan, said technology upgradation, renovation and modernisation were the critical elements to bring down GHG emissions and Indian industry could achieve them through exchange of information. Investment could be attracted for appropriate technologies.

    Hinting that there was still scope for re-entry of the U.S. into the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, Vijai Sharma, former Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry, said the Berlin Mandate and Marrakesh Accord too provided space for this possibility.

    The Director of the Policy Analysis Division in the TERI, Preety Bhandari, said countries such as India were more vulnerable to climate change as they were greatly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors and possessed low technological, financial and institutional capacity to tackle the problems posed by adverse climate changes.


    Green is Clean

    A contest spurred on a village to work for a new look
    The Indian Express [14 JULY, 2002]
    Vishwas Kothari

    Kolhapur, Maharashtra ITíS TOUGH, looking at the lush green patches of sugarcane and banana plantations around Ankalkhop, a prosperous village 25 km north of Sangli, to correctly visualise the landscape nine months ago. Then, the predominant features were piles of stinking garbage, overflowing sewage lines, unhygienic conditions at the nearby Dalit slum. Mosquitoes bred freely, encouraged as much by the exposed sewerage as by the defecation in the open.

    It took the Maharashtra governmentís novel contest for the title of three top clean villages to galvanise the community into action. At that point of time, it seemed audacious for Ankalkhop to aim to be "a role model for development and prosperity through active peopleís participation" on parameters like public health, individual hygiene, education, self-employment schemes and harmony among villagers. Today, Ankalkhop is recognised as the cleanest village.

    The garbage-pockmarked wastelands have given way to patches of green. The waste-water is routed through open and concealed drainage lines to new sedimentation tanks, where it is treated and re-directed to sugarcane and banana fields.

    But itís the transformation of the Harijan-vasti ó as villagers refer to the slum ó that is the most dramatic. The cluster is now clean, with the 110-odd dwellings neatly painted in ivory cream and brick with attached cement-concrete bathroom blocks, a black stone approachway, a row of newly raised public toilets, biomass and gobar-gas plants for alternative sources of energy and, above all, a carefully worked out culture for cleanliness-through-awareness.

    Good habits can be as addictive as the bad. The statewide Sant Gadge Baba Village Sanitation Campaign, which followed the Cleanest Village contest, also triggered a flurry of activity across Ankalkhop, uniting villagers for causes as varied as conserving the environment, banning liquor and gutka, implementing family planning schemes, promoting small savings and converting public urinals into urea recovery plants. "We have also been discouraging use of plastic bags. The village women have donated sarees to make cloth bags," adds Ankalkhop sarpanch Suman Suryawanshi.

    The village of 14,000 people, mostly agriculturists, takes special pride in the harmony and understanding among its residents. "We donít have a police chowki, nor do we need one," boasts villager Ajit Patil.

    For village elders and leaders, executing the clean village campaign, though, was easier said than done. "Like in any development initiative, scepticism and doubts cropped up when we chalked out plans for the contest," says Gramsevak P R Suryawanshi. "We started with a handful of people and managed to bring the rest together when our efforts started showing results."

    As corporate honchos would agree, that is the best man-management principle. And at Ankalkhop, they have shown it works.