Backward step

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India is extremely exhausted with tackling the issue of coal shortage which has caused power scarcity as coal based power generation projects have become non operative. In the heat wave conditions, when people are struggling to get enough electricity, the power corporations have left with very short supply of coal which means a grave disaster of electricity shortage. In such condition, the government has become so desperate to get electricity that it has returning back for the solutions which may prove to be backward step.  The Union Government is contemplating desperate measures which might turn out to be counter-productive in the long run. Discussions are being held with power firms on reviving non-operational coal-based plants and the ones that are under liquidation. This is not only a short-term solution at best but also a step backward, considering India’s lofty climate action targets — set for 2030 — of sourcing 50 per cent energy requirement from renewables and installing 500 GW of non-fossil fuel electricity capacity. The surge in power demand, triggered by the scorching heatwave, has led to frantic attempts to arrange adequate coal supplies. However, overdependence on this highly polluting fossil fuel is impeding India’s efforts to shift to renewable sources of energy. Last month’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that there was no carbon budget left to accommodate new coal plants, even as coal use needs to fall by 75 per cent by 2030 (from 2019 levels) to limit the global temperature rise below 1.5°C, as envisaged by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Worldwide, the focus is largely on phase-down or phase-out of coal plants. According to a survey of the Global Energy Monitor, the global coal plant capacity under development declined in 2021 — after rising in 2020 for the first time since 2015. Though China has pledged to stop funding new coal plants in other countries, widespread power shortage in late 2021 prompted it to make a renewed push for this time-tested fuel — five new domestic coal power projects were okayed in the first six weeks of 2022. India must resist the temptation of following in China’s footsteps. The sustainable way forward is to strengthen ties with countries which can help India come closer to achieving its climate goals. It is commendable that Berlin has committed an additional assistance of 10 billion euros to New Delhi for promoting carbon neutrality under the Indo-German Partnership for Green and Sustainable Development. Regressive moves such as the revival of coal plants will only undermine India’s credibility as a votary of clean energy. To lessen overdependence on coal, Indian government has constantly giving boost to use of electricity vehicles. The step is no doubt good and it is definitely going to reduce carbon emissions and pollution, there are many special problems of using electrical energy for running vehicles. The four main problems include charging stations which is very difficult presently. India need to find the solutions for these problems. Then it can go fully with EVs. But there is lot of time for that. Till then, we have to go with coal based electricity which has now become defunct. Many coal based projects have stopped to produce electricity due to lack of coal, which has become scarce due to Russia Ukraine war. In such situation, India need to find solution but not going back to old ways. It has to overcome the present challenges and overcome the situation. This is the need of the hour.