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Indian MPs for low carbon development in constituencies

Dec 21, 2015

In a landmark initiative by Climate Parliament, some of the Parliamentarians gathered in Delhi in end-November to discuss how politicians can play a critical role in initiating comprehensive development planning of an area based on low carbon principles.

New Delhi: Parliamentarians and legislators like Kalikesh SinghDeo, Prahlad Joshi, Arvind Bellard belong to different political parties, ideologies and regions. Still they have one thing in common: their commitment and drive towards building low carbon development plans in their local areas and constituencies and its gradual implementation, so that people and economy develop in sustainable and climate sensitive manner, the burning issues like energy access and services, rural electrification get integrated with the local area low carbon development plans and local area development works are not planned in an one off, ad-hoc ways but they are wellthought and implemented with the vision and participation of peoples’ representatives.

In a landmark initiative by Climate Parliament, a network of parliamentarians and legislatures working to promote renewable energy to combat climate change, some of these legislatures and parliamentarians gathered in Delhi in end-November to discuss how politicians can play a critical role in initiating comprehensive development planning of an area based on low carbon principles and subsequent on-ground implementation. Politicians have expressed their concerns about Parliamentarians’ and state legislators being largely kept out of implementation discourse of issues like energy access and services and rural electrification.

The meeting was reminded of the fact that the Climate Parliament in association with Athena Infonomics have undertaken a project to raise awareness, build capacity, empower and demonstrate to a network of legislators (nationally and regionally) the benefits of low carbon development at the ground level/constituency level/district level. The meeting involved presentation by Legislators themselves on the groundwork and progress achieved in the project including the launch of an online platform for supporting legislators specifically.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (IC) and Parliamentary Affairs and the Chairperson, Climate Parliament India lauded the successful and positive efforts by parliamentarians and legislators from different parts of the country to address climate change by focusing on renewable energy, energy access, employment generation and sustainable development in their own areas.

He rightly said, ‘governments alone cannot deliver the low-carbon transformation that we want. We need the support of everyone to bring the change especially the non state actors in positions of influence. There is an urgent need to open the floor or build a platform for partnerships amongst like-minded organisations whose objectives converge towards inclusive long term sustainable development of India. For this, we will need to harness the innovation and brilliance of our scientists and engineers, outreach of our civil society organisations, technical and financial knowhow of corporates and influence of public representatives. Coupled with the entrepreneurial drive of the private sector, legislators initiatives will enable us to pave the way for the deployment of critical low-carbon technologies, some of which may not even have been invented yet.’

In the meeting, the low carbon development plan of Balangir district in Odisha state, represented by MP Kalikesh Singhdeo was an apt example about the positive role of the legislators. For holistic local level development of the district, energy access is inevitable that can improve livelihood opportunities and can enhance quality of life. In the district, 12% of the population lives in urban areas and 88% live in rural areas. Total connected load in Balangir district in 2013-14 was 56 MW which is projected to be 193.7MW in 2021-22 with an average annual growth of 6.32%. There are 6 large-scale electricity consumers and 50 medium and small-scale consumer in commercial sector in Balangir circle. Total connected load in the industrial sector of Balangir is 24.37MW. There are 304 government consumers with connected load from 1KW to 80KW and total connected load is 2143KW.

Although about 70% villages in the district are connected by grid electricity, access to electricity at household level is very poor and as per census report only 22.71% of rural households have access to grid electricity. Unreliable supply of electricity is also another concern in the district. There is about 6-8 hours power cut per day as reported by the government officials and villagers. In case of rural households, 75% of rural residential sector is using kerosene for lighting purpose. In this context, usage of solar energy technologies for lighting purposes can play a significant role in changing the lives of people. Interventions can be derived based on basic economic assessment to check financial viability for different renewable energy options to meet required demand in different sectors. A 1kWp rooftop PV system can generate about 1500 kWh of electricity on an annual basis. Solar cookers can be a very good option for the household sector to save conventional energy.

Solar lantern and solar home systems can be very useful for ligting and operating low power electronic devices. Balangir district produces about 1.85 million tonnes of sugarcane every year. These sugarcanes are supplied to the sugar mills in the district or other sugar mills in the neighbouring districts. Bagasse produced from sugar mills can be used for co-generation; producing electricity and thermal power that can be consumed by the sugar mills themselves or supply to the grid at preferential tariff fixed by the government. The potential of power generation from bagasse based co-generation plant is estimated at 16MW. The meeting facilitated a detailed discussion on the ways and means to scale up and strengthen legislators’ network in order to facilitate a stronger planning and implementation framework for low carbon local area development. Many positive suggestions came up: How district administration can help in assessment of RE potential in the district that can also be incorporated in the low carbon plan in their planning process, how private organizations and corporate houses can help in implementation of projects by mobilizing resources and CSR Funds, how State Govt. can work in collaboration with Energy Ministry and District Administration and others.

The roads ahead are to strengthen partnerships and mobilizing finance, project execution and management, creation of resource centre to facilitate implementation along with technical guidance, expertise and financial analysis of projects for potential investors- individual or companies, publicity and capacity building and monitoring and evaluation. Local area low carbon development plans by parliamentarians and legislatures are a new area of work. There is an urgent need to demonstrate and disseminate the learning. The next step should be to scale up these efforts in each constituency. There is a bright silver line to scale up this unique effort. As Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the State Parliamentary Affair Minister, said that he will also disseminate local area low carbon development initiatives to the wider set of fellow parliamentarians and to concerned parliamentary committees and Ministries.

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