India plans to convert all vehicles sales to battery electric vehicles (EVs) sales by 2030. It aims to deploy 6-7 million hybrid or EVs by 2020. However, this would build a huge fresh demand for electricity in India. For this, it would be important to develop new energy types that are less polluting and cheap. It’s important to generate electricity with the help of solar power. Electrification of vehicles will lead to less pollution only if the electricity generated for the same is through renewable sources. The National Auto Policy of India has replaced the word ‘electric vehicle’ with ‘green mobility’. Besides the electrification of private vehicles, there is also a need to electrify the public transport like buses and trains. Public transport has to be comfortable and affordable; this would encourage the people to give up their private vehicles. According to a UNFCC study, the Delhi Metro’s daily ridership of 2,700,000 has helped 3,90,971 vehicles off the city roads. This means an annual reduction of 2,76,000 tonnes of fuel consumption and 5,77,148 tons of pollutants. The Metro has really combated the situation of Delhi’s pollution to some extent. Diesel and petrol vehicles need to be removed from the roads by offering a better substitute. The plan to shift to electric vehicles would first require planning to convert the energy sector to a pollution-free sector, that is, switching partially to solar power or nuclear power depending upon the possibility.
Carpooling is the eco-friendliest way to promote green mobility. This can become more workable and user-friendly by using apps and linking people to find the nearest car pool. Delhi needs to implement stringent rules for diesel and petrol cars, in addition to an effective private vehicle policy. An ‘end of vehicle life policy’ has been framed to implement an NGT directive of 2014, wherein all vehicles older than 15 years should not be allowed to ply on roads or park in public places. Such vehicles will be scraped and dismantled. Here, the thrust should be also on recycling the parts of the vehicles and disposing rest of the scrapped parts in an eco-friendly way. The recently adopted short-term measure of odd and even licence plate vehicles plying on odd and even days, respectively, also became very popular for dealing with the pollution problem during the peak months.
Coal-fuelled power in Delhi is one of the major culprits of pollution. It is high time to make it mandatory for all official buildings, malls, schools, hospitals and housing colonies to install solar power panels on their roof tops. The government should award benefits for installing and using solar energy. It should also put penalties on excess use and misuse of electricity. Energy management in a sustainable form is definitely the need of the hour and should be taken up seriously by the government. Solar panels should be available at a low cost. It should be made popular by sensitising people with the help of the media. In addition, the government should plan to harness thermal energy and wind energy by putting energy plants and fields to generate electricity.
Recycling agricultural waste
Recycling the stubble waste generated by the states of Haryana and Punjab can reduce the air pollution in Delhi in the months of November and December. Dairy farming should be encouraged in these areas so that the agri-residue can be used as fodder for the livestock. According to Jha, an Indian economist and author, the straw and stubble can be gasified in a two- stage process that yields a fuel gas that can meet cooking, heating and power generation needs in the village in the first stage, and any type of transport fuel - diesel, aviation turbine fuel, methanol or CNG - in the second stage.
In India, the large-scale induction of gasification of agricultural residue technology can end the annual invasion of smog, increase farm incomes and save the country’s valuable foreign exchange.
Delhi Government in 2020 tested a solution developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) to dissolve residual stubble in farmlands to be converted into manures. The bio decomposer can solve Delhi’s pollution menace.
Innovations in urban farming and terrace gardens
- (i) Expanded Clay Aggregate (ECA): ECA is a round palette structure produced by firing natural clay at a temperature of 1,200°C. This leads to the formation of a hard, honey-combed structure of interconnecting voids within the aggregate. Round-shaped and small-size particles are formed. These particles are supposed to have efficient water retention and improved drainage characteristics. The ECA technology can be used for roof gardening by water proofing it. The ECA makes agriculture environment-friendly.
- (ii) Drip farming: Farming on roofs or on land has to be water-efficient in cities. Therefore, drip farming has been suggested as the best alternative. This technique saves 50-60 per cent of water, which is a scarce resource in the cities. Drip farming is a technique of irrigation in which the farm is watered with the help of networks of pipes having emitters at equal spacing. These pipes are attached to the tanks, from where the flow of water is controlled. Fertilisers are fed into the tank and mixed with water instead of being sprinkled on land. The tanks can have fresh water, yellow water or any kind of recycled water.
- (iii) Pind pipes: Pind pipes have been found to be another important and new innovation that can be adopted for organic farming. Word ‘pind’ comes from the Punjabi word that means “a village”. The pind pipe is a broad small pipe with holes that looks like a flute. This can be half- filled with water with a net put into it in such a way that more than half of it is immersed in water. The clay balls can be placed in the pipe while ensuring that at least 3A of the pot is filled. The seeds can be sprinkled evenly into the pot. This is based upon a technique called hydroponics. It is a way of growing plants in water without soil. It requires no pesticides, fertilisers or chemicals. One can harvest fresh vegetables and consume them immediately.
- (iv) Seed balls or seed bombs: Seeds can be kept in seed balls to prevent damage, and can be grown easily with less water. The seed balls are made with mud, clay and compost. They are ball-shaped, and native seeds can be put inside them. They can be planted easily. Just throw it and grow it.
(v) Composting: The disposal and recycling of waste through composting has become imperative. Only 2 per cent of the municipal solid waste in India is composted. The Supreme Court order of 2006 directs fertiliser companies to co-market city compost with chemical fertilisers. The subsidy provided to fertiliser companies and transportation of fertilisers has no match to the government incentive of market development assistance for city compost at Rs. 1,500 per tonne, which renders compost uncompetitive vis-a-vis chemical fertilisers. Only a few Indian cities are trying biomethanation of waste, as segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste at source remains a major challenge.