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India to Focus on Solar Energy

Jun 01, 2008 - The Times of India

NEW DELHI - The much-awaited national climate change action plan is almost ready. As per the final draft, to be discussed by the PM's Climate Change Council on June 2, the government has decided to launch eight national missions. These eight focus areas will be implemented in a time-bound fashion as part of India's domestic agenda to counter impacts of climate change and reduce the country's emissions of greenhouse gases.

The draft recommends a mission to boost the use of solar energy in India's energy mix. The action plan suggests using not only existing solar technology but also working on new materials like solar concentrators to increase the use of solar energy. The mission will work with the private sector to build an initial kitty of several billion rupees and create the production capacity to serve both urban and rural markets. Just as the wind industry had got a fillip under benevolent regimes, the mission could give a major boost to the nebulous solar energy market in India.

Though the draft could still be amended during deliberations on June 2, sources said the eight thrust areas could more or less remain intact with some changes within the finer provisions.

The draft has been eagerly awaited by the Indian industry and other countries as it will lay down the basemap for large future investments by the country as well as be the policy for "decarbonising" India's growth trajectory - reducing India's dependence on fossil fuels.

Another mission will increase the energy efficiency levels in the way India constructs and runs its cities, offices, houses and other built environment. This mission will focus on management of solid waste treatment as well as give a push to public transport systems. Already, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency has come up with standards and is working on financing mechanisms to not only overhaul existing buildings but to improve entire municipalities and townships as well.

The Green India project, that the government has already announced with the backing of an existing Rs 7,500 crore corpus, will form the backbone of an afforestation mission covering 6 million hectares over a period of 10 years.

Another mission to green Indian agriculture will work to increase the resistance of crop systems to climate change by using biotechnology and geo-spatial data as well as information technology. In tandem, the government wants to start a water mission that will work towards improving efficiency in the hydro sector. The government plans to set an ambitious target which will be achieved by developing and deploying technologies like desalination as well as waste-recycling.

Responding to studies pointing to grave threat to the fragile Himalayan ecosystem, the government has decided to start a sustaining Himalayas commission. The mission will work to protect the glacial systems that some studies suggest could be melting fast under the influence of global warming. The mission will work to protect the communities in the region as well as increase the depth of scientific research on the mountain range.


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