Environment: PFC's key concern
By Sanjay Kumar
THE Power Finance Corporation Ltd., a government of India undertaking, is a development financing institution for power projects in India. It provides investment by way of short and medium term loans and also long term investment requirements of various state electricity boards, state generating corporations and other power sector utilities in the public and private sector. PFC also has a separate Constancy services unit, which offers constancy to power utilities for fixation and rationalisation of electricity tariffs. Environment is a priority while sanctioning loans for power projects safeguarding the environment is an important feature of PFC’s development financeagenda. PFC has its own separate environment eell, which goes into all aspects of a project’s environmental impact and ensures that a project fulfils all conditions and requirements for mitigation of its environmental impact before being sanctioned for a loan. The company scrupulously follows the environmental guidelines laid down by the government of India and other authorised environment watchdogs. "We are very conscious of the fact that we have a duty to protect the environment for our future generations," affirms R.Krishnamoorthy, PFC’s director (finance & financial operations). As such, safety and health of environment remains a key concern for PFC, which satisfies itself before sanctioning proposal for a loan . "Before sane tioning a project. we look ior its clearance from other authorities like the state pollution control board and the ministry of environment, points out Krishnamoorthy While evaluating any project, PFC undertakes its own independent appraisal of the project irrespective of the sanctions and clearances that it may have already obtained from other private or government authorities. PFC takes due care to study and assess the environmental impact of a project and factors that could mitigate a project’s impact on environment. In fact, when it comes disbursing loans for project's Environment schemes, PFC doesn’t ask for FIRR or EARR. "This means that we sanction loans without going into the requirement of the project’s financial internal rate of return or the economic internal says Krishnamoorthy PFC also assists encourages generating units to undertake environmental impact studies and take steps to reduce to reduce pollution levels like installing carbon reducing electrostatic precipitators or a reforestation exercise for hydro generating projects.
If I expose myself to a single borrower of a green field project, I may have to give him Rs 500 crore but when it comes to renovation and modernisation o f old plants, perhaps I can give Rs 100 crore for five projects," reasons Krishnamoorthy.
PFC is particularly conscious of bridging this gap, so we give priority to system improvement and mastering programmes, reveals Krishnamoorthy. In the PFC’s scheme of things, we give finance on a lowel rate of interest for renovation and modernisation projects than what we give for new thermal power projects.
As a development financing institution PFC provides assistance and when the SEB's are in need of investment. It also gives grants to the tune of Rs 1 crore per year to each state for undertaking studies for better implementation of electricity distribution models and for undertaking management and financial restructuring of SEBs. The grant can also be used for carrying out environmental impact assessment of a project.
Let's give earth a chance
By Mahendra Jakhar
WORLD Environment Day, commemorated each year on June 5, is about us and the world around us. It is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. Broadly, the agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues, empower people to become aetive agents of sustainable and equitable development, promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues, and advocate part nership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
This year’s theme Give Earth a Chance’ calls on each and every one of us to contribute to the healing of the ailing planet. In spite of considerable efforts and significant achievements, many of the problems, which plagued the Earth during the 20th Century, still linger. More than ever, we need to take the necessary steps to ensure that the environment remains at the top of the global agenda.
The main international celebrations of the World Environment Day will be held in the City of Shenzhen and UNEP is honoured that the People’s Republic of China will be hosting this important United Nations day
World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment Another resolution, adopted by the General As sembly the same day, led to the ereation of [INEI’ World Environment Day is a people’s event with colorful ac tivities such as street rallies, bicycle parades, green concerts, essays and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, as well as recycling and cleanup campaigns.
It is a visual event with television documentaries, photo exhibits and displays, as well as an intellectual event for those who organize and participate in seminars, roundtable meetings and symposia. In many countries, this observance provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international conventions and sometimes leads to the establishment oi permanent government structures dealing with environmental management and economic planning.
On the Day Heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. More serious pledges are made which lead to the establishment of permanent governmental structures dealing with environmental management and economic planning. The United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific is inviting entries into a painting competition designed to celebrate environmental success stories. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has elected the City of Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China, to the prestigious ranks of its Global 500 Roll of Honour for outstanding contributions to the protection of the environment. The organization is one of eight individuals and organizations to receive this honour in 2002. World Environment Day is celebrated in some 120 countries around the world to focus global attention and action on environmental issues. Since the inception of the award in 1987, 727 individuals and organizations, in both the adult and youth categories, have been honoured with the Global 500 award. Among prominent past winners are: French Marine explorer Jacques Cousteau; Sir David Attenborough, producer of environmental television programmes; Gro Harlem Brundt and, former Prime Minister of Norway; Anil Aggarwal, the prominent environmentalist from Indla; Ken Saro Wiwa, the environmental and human rights activist from Nigeria who was executed for leading the resistance of the Ogoni People against the pollution of their Delta homeland; the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Jimmy Carter, Jane Good all of the UK whose research on chimpanzees and olive baboons provided insight into the lives of non human primates; and the late Chico Mendes. the Brazilian rubber tapper.
Plastics and Environment: To be or not to be
By Proshanto Banerjee
EVERY citizen in this country knows for sure the fact that plastics have played a very vital role in the growth phase of the Indian economy during the recent past. Every vital sector of the economy starting from agriculture to packaging, automobile, building construction, communication or infotech have been virtually revolutionised by the applications of plastics. The plastic processing industry, which made a modest beginning during the 70’s had really taken off only during the post liberalization era. The current business environment and abundant domestic availability of plastic raw materials have resulted in a double digit growth rate consistently during the recent years. Last year, the growth In polymer consumption was about 12 percent. Moreover, it is estimated that about Rs 20,000 crores has been invested in the last 3d years in this industry, leading to doubling of capacity. Continued growth in consumption at this rate would make India ihe 3rd largest polymer consumer hl the world by 2010.
The wonder material
This success story of Plastics would not have been possible hilt for the proven advantages that it possesses over its nearest substitutes Like Metal, Glass or Paper. Today the packaging industry is by far the major user of plastics. It constitutes 52% of the total consumption. They are used to pack cosmetics toiletries, milk, edible oil and food products. Plastics in the packaging sector provide the convenience, ease of handling and packaging efficiency. It definitely increases the shelf life of food products.
In the transport sector, plastics are increasingly replacing or have replaced traditional material in automobiles, aircrafts and boats, for example, fiber reinforced plastics, fuel tanks, interiors, dash boards, bumpers and so on. In these applications, the functional superiority of plastics has been established.
The contribution of plastics as an aid to modern agriculture is immense. Drip and sprinkler irrigation systems, muleh films, green house films, pond and canal lining films are proven products to conserve water, protect crops from vagaries of weather; thus resulting in better productivity
Plastics in environment: A few myths
In spite of its proven functional superiority, lately a few misconceptions are gaining ground, which are generating a feeling among the decision makers and the common public that plastics are harmful and should not be used. If a ban is put on the use of plasties on emotional grounds, the real cost would be much higher, the inconvenience much more, the chances of damage or contamination much greater, the risks to the family health and safety would increase and, above all the environmental burden would be many fold. Hence the question is not ‘Plastics vs No Plastics’ but it is more concerned with the judicious use of plastics. The issue therefore has to be understood in the right perspective.
In the developing economies the rate of growth of consumerism is always high. This leads to a constant rise in the municipal solid waste. Plastics have the advantage of flexibility, strength, resistance to nature and being light weight. So, for packaging, plastics are the best solution. But that leads to higher generation of waste, which has to be man aged. The best way to manage this waste is to recycle it as resources once generated from the petro oil do not go waste for ever rather they come back into the system We must adopt the slogan " We don’t waste We recycle". Though this problem needs to be addressed, the following facts and figures explicitly show how our country is in the right situation to tackle this issue. Let us delve into the facts on the Indian dimension of plastic waste eompared to the world average. The per capita consumption of plastics in India is 3.5 kg as compared to the global average of 19 kg . The plastics present in the solid waste stream is 3 per cent in India as against 8 per cent world average. In spite of low waste volumes Indian plastic industry has taken initiatives on recycling which is about 60 per cent in India against the world average of 15-20 per cent.
Still, the often-repeated myths about plastics persist like Plastics are toxic and are not safe for use, plastic wastes are eco-hazardous mainly due to a ion bio-degradability, plastics are harmful to plants and soil, plastic bags contaminate water, plastics are major source of waste problems and plastic bags choke drains durin monsoon season.
Before any remark on alleged harmful effect of plastics is made, it is worth while to imagine an environment without plastics. Had there been no plastics and we were to use iron pipes for transportation of drinking water nearly percent higher electrical energy would have been consumed due to pumping inefficiency and corrosion; had there been no plastic milk pouches, chances of adulteration and related health hazards would have been multifold. A Government of India Petroehemieals Industry Study states that changeover from glass bottles to plastic pouches results in a saving of 27.6 billion units equaling 4 X 1000 MW thermal power in terms of energy consumption over a ten year period.
Had we used paper as the only mode of packaging, we would have cut 20 million trees matured over a period of 10 years, apart from generating highly toxic chemical pollutants that would have got discharged from the paper mill. The use of plastic crates for transportation, in fact, helps in controlling the denudation of forests.
CPMA has estimated that if plastics bags are used instead of jute bags for packaging of food grains and sugar there would be an estimated saving of Rs 12000 crores, which is lost due to spoilage of food grains and sugar packed in jute bags.
Thus, in a nutshell, plastics have given us a risk free eco-friendly environment as it prevents wastage of food products. It does not generate pollutants during the manufacturing stage or the conversion process. It helps in conserving searee natural re sources and they are reusable and recyclable.
Reusability and recyclability are the two major attributes of any material to be regarded as eco-friendly In advanced countries, though plastic waste contributes about 8 per cent of total municipal solid waste, they have never banned plastics usage They have gone for more pragmatic approach of proper waste segregation and recycling to make use of the recyelates in less value added products, or incinerate to harness energy for further utility.
Need for proper waste management programme
For an effective implementation of proper waste management programme, it is necessary to have a holistic approach to tackle the issue. This would mean undertaking public awareness campaign, setting up of organized collection chain of plastics waste, incinerators or recycling units. Instead of launching campaigns like "Ban Plastics" or "Use No Plastics" we must educate the people to propagate the avoidance of wrong littering habits among the public. We must have campaigns on "Ban Litterinz" and Punish the Litterer".
In any of these campaigns or establishment of disposal systems, the involvement of Government, industry and public is very important. In this context, it would be worthwhile considering the establishment of model cities for waste disposal system in major plastics consumption zones.
This system must encompass waste disposal, collection, segregation, processing and recycling, besides public awareness campaigns on wrong waste disposal habits and compliance to scientific disposal systems. The plastics industry must debate this concept to give it a final shape.
These cities would act as models for others to emulate. We can also take a cue from the Western world on mechanised handling and disposal systems.
Another aspect which demands attention is establishing a centre for product development for recycled products and scientific waste management system, which can be a nodal institution for recycling and reusability of plastics. Because once we show the way to the people in the industry how they can profitably establish a unit for making different products out of waste, the magnitude of this problem can be reduced to a great extent. Polymer manufacturers inching GAIL can extend their support to the industry in this regard.
Another important issue that is to be addressed by this industry is the biodegradability of plastics. This is going to be a real challenge to the scientific community and any breakthrough in this area would be a real boon to the plastic industry It is appropriate here to quote an interesting fact from a study report published by International Energy Agency, Paris on carbon dioxide emission. According to this study the per capita CO2 emission is 0.91 MT in India. It is 20.46 MT in USA and surprisingly it is the highest at 63.11 MT in Qatar, a small country. The world average is 3.88 MT. Definitely we are far ahead. compared to other countries. There is tremendous scope to preserve our environment if we undertake scientifically planned preventive actions. The issue of environment has to be ad dressed with the right perspective by bringing in professionalism in our Environment Management Strategies. It demands as much attention as our business.
Delhi goes the green way
By A Correspondent
THE forests are inexhaustible reserves for providing subsistence to the growing millions and are not only essential for the conservation of soil, forest, grasslands and water but our very life depends on them. The oxygen that we breathe is emitted by trees and the water we drink is in many ways dependent on trees and plants. Along with beautifying the plaee the trees provide us shade and timber and keeping a check on soil erosion avoid natural disasters like floods.
Being the symbols of purity and means to alleviate suffering varieties of trees and plants have always been in use to heal different kinds of ailments. Vegetal cover acts as a pollution scavenger as it absorbs gases and gather particulate matter through leaves having large surface areas. The green and leafy portions of the trees and plants have the capacity to filter dust, smoke and other pollutants in the air. Trees also reduce noise pollution and thermal pollution by checking on the heat build up in the atmosphere. Many of the trees have been found to be sensitive to pollutants and are used as pollution indicators. Cultivation of resistant trees represents the greatest possibility for reducing pollution caused to the environment by air pollutants.
Despite the known role of trees in invigorating the environment and the increasing pollution. Delhi had hardly 26 sq.km of forest cover until 1997 as per the ‘State of Forest Report’ published by the Forest Survey of India in 1997. Considering the importance of tree cover for a city like Delhi, the Govt. of NCT of Delhi launched a massive greening drive in which various agencies like Forest Department, MCD, DDA, NDMC, CPWD, PWD, Horticulture Department, NGOs, Resident Welfare Associations, Educational Institutions, Eco-Clubs and citizens of Delhi were involved in a big way It was only due to these concerted efforts that the tree cover of Delhi increased to 88 sq.km. in the year 2000 while h is 5.93 per cent of the total land areas if of Delhi thus making Delhi the greatest metropolis in the country. Greening efforts have been continued with increased tempo and there are already indications that the tree cover of Delhi has now crossed 100 sq.km mark. Amongst the various tree species being planted in Delhi are-Ficus religiosa a (Pipal), Albizzia lebbel (Siris), Cassia fistula (Amaltas), Zizyphus jujuba (Ber), Azadirachta indica (Neem), Tamilr indus in dica (Imli), Dalbergia sisso (Shisham), Butea monosperma (Dhak), Ficus glomerata (Gular), Fieus infeetorla (Pilkhan), Alstonia seholaris (Sataun), Aeacia nilotiea (Desi kikar), Ailanthus excelsa (Ulloo neem), Albizzia lebbel (Siris), Lagerstromia flosreginae, Mimusops elengi (Maulsiri), Nerium indieum (Kaner), Terminalia arjuna (Arjun), Kigelia pinnata, Syzygium eumini (Jamun), Bauhinia variegata eeiba (Semul), Cassia nodusa, Cassia javanica, Jaearanda mimosaefolia and others.
Along with tree plantation it is also imperative to preserve the existing green eover. Delhi Ridge, which has been the only natural treasure for millions of people of Delhi hs been rich in many plants species. For ages it has been the natural boundary between the desert and Delhi. It now serves as a sink for many pollutants anti garbage. Delhi Ridge needs to be protected and developed carefully Delhi has over 120 species of plants According to a report published by the Zoological Survey of India, Delhi has 32 species of mammals, 25 species reptiles, 434 species of resident and other birds. In fact there are 1787 species, 585 species of vertebra and 1202 species of invertebrates. It is therefore abundantly clear that Delhi is not deficient in species variety which is the normal public perception. However we need to create suitable habitat for them to thrive and coexist peacefully.