Often getting blame for most of environmental ills, industrialists in the state joined hands with environmental activists for first of its kind conference aimed at finding solutions for sustainable development. After attending the three-day exercise Aliya Bashir offers a brief sketch of the entire meet
It was a different kind of exercise. Entrepreneurs and green activists who are usually considered as two extremes on issues involving ecology were complementing each other to discuss the mutual target of a sustainable growth. Policy makers and the representatives of the political executive were there to understand the two sides and offer their vision on issues of concern.
The exercise, a joint effort of the Federation Chamber of Industries, Kashmir (FCIK) and Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN), started on May 25, 2010. Aptly titled ‘Green Solutions for J&K’, the inaugural session started with brainstorming on the fundamental issues and was chaired by Surjit Singh Salathia, Minister of Industry and commerce at SKICC. Apart from experts, officials, entrepreneurs, youth and general public from both India and abroad, the exercise created a lot of newsy stuff and concluded with a set of recommendations that the chief minister Omar Abdullah appreciated.
“Eco-friendly industries are must for overall development of the state. We are very optimistic to take full advantage of roping of industry and environment which is the first time in the history of Kashmir,” Salathia said.
While emphasizing on the need to have more investment of the outside industries to tackle the unemployment issues, he said, “We will work on the recommendations of the event in order to implement in our policies. The installation of green technologies to control pollution can be utilised by entrepreneurs with 100 per cent subsidy”.
Shakeel Qalander, President, FCIK said that the event is aimed at finding a compatibility between industrial development and environment. “The debate was actually on what do we want and what should be in place for the sound environment and economy,” he said.
Apart from regular conferencing and involvement of government and other think tanks, the focus was to get different viewpoints at the public level. “We want to assure to all stakeholders that industrialists are never averse to environment. We are equally concerned. Our efforts would be to sensitize and aware the public and government pertaining to eco-friendly industrial development,” said Qalander.
For sustainable economy of J&K, Jai Kumar Guarav, independent consultant to Clean Tech financing, put emphasis on green industries in J&K, to prevent the environment from getting negatively impacted from other industrial activities.
“We need to promote tourism that is not disturbing the integrity of the ecosystem. The opportunities for green industries will open room for training and human resource development. There is a huge potential of training the youth in J&K in green energy sector as there will be shortage of trained professional,” he said.
Jaleel A Khan, Economic Advisory to J&K government said that there is an immediate need to create quick eco revival in the state which has suffered adversely in the last two decades of perpetual strife. “In order to evoke a greater interest of youth in industries, we are planning 100 thousand jobs within five years in private sector, under Sher- i- Kashmir employment and welfare scheme for youth,” he said.
For hassle free state with green technologies and strict actions against the pollution creating elements, Lal Chand Sharma, Chairman J&K Pollution Control Board said that such deliberations are very important for good health of both industries and environment. “We are ready to provide all assistance in order to promote white and green category industries and have a proper regulation on Red and orange Category Industries,” he said.
The conference’s first technical session was on “Solid Waste Management and Waste Water Treatment”. Nasir Aslam Wani, Minister of State for Housing & Urban Development presided over the session. A number of officials and experts relevant to the field shared their concerns, experiences and made certain suggestions.
“The government is really worrisome to cater to the urban population ratio which has tremendously increased. But, most of the metropolitan cities in both India and abroad share the same,” said Nasir.
About the deteriorating condition of Dal-Lake, he said that the modernized green technologies should be promoted over conventional methods. “Apart from the problem of direct flow of raw nutrients in the Dal, floating gardens also adds to adverse condition of the Dal. We are trying to minimize the use of pollution with sewage treatment plants.”
Mehraj Ahmed Kakroo, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, holding the additional charge of Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, said that there is a dire need for innovatory manpower management, technology and identifying goals of short term importance and long term significance. “Government is ready to adopt new technologies for handling solid waste management. We can start by providing dustbins to people and other equipments in order to handle garbage,” Kakroo said.
Irfan Yasin, Vice Chairman, LAWDA, said Dal lake is getting 36 million liters of raw sewage a day as over 300 thousand people are living on its banks. Three STP’s are already operating and three more and at various levels of implementation. He said a 27-Kms long trunk sever surrounding the lake is connected to 78-kms of smaller severs and prevents the raw sewage from entering into the lake. Besides, Yasin said the LAWDA is collecting and disposing one ton of solid waste a day. He said 33000 hectors of catchment needs to be treated as it triggers non-point sewerage to the water-body.
“For management of solid waste, participation at individual level is a pre-requisite. The residential areas of Srinagar has been changed into shopping malls thus polluting our environment at large which needs to be checked,” said Kifayat Rizvi, Vice Chairman Srinagar Development Authority.
Taking Nigeen Lake as role model which could be taken as blue-print for restoring the beauty of Dal Lake, Manzoor Wangnoo, Chairman of Nigeen Lake Conservation Organisation and House Boat Association said that intervention at local level is must apart from government. “We have already lost Khusal Sir, Gilsar and now Dal is on the verge of loss. The interiors of Dal Lake are not properly managed which needs immediate attention,” he said.
Caroline Howe from IYCN stressed on the need to implement a waste management strategy in order to collect all food waste and converting it to organic fertilizer. “We need to think holistically about waste generated, refusing consumption, reducing wastage, reusing materials and recycling of waste,” she said.
“The solution for solid waste management and treatment lies in converting waste into biogas which could replace LPG. It is better if we have multiple technologies for our back up support and a substitute to prevent dependency- solar, geothermal, wind etc,” said Vinod Kumar of Mailhem, pvt ltd.
In order to ensure a balance between tourism and ecology, experts present in the session dedicated to “Sustainable Tourism and Eco tourism in J&K” focussed on the immediate need to change the perspective through which Eco-Tourism would be promoted with minimum impact on fragile ecology of the state. Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister of Tourism and Culture presided over the session.
“For sustainable tourism, we need to sensitize ourselves in ecological and cultural development of the state. I think this event would help us to manage our resources in preserving our environment and tourism,” Jora said.
M Ashraf, former DG Tourism said that it is a wrong notion that tourism is backbone of economy, infact J&K is actually agriculture based economy. “If we really want to make tourism our backbone, we have to devise potential strategies. For bringing quality tourism, political accessibility, quality infrastructure and international air connection needs to be taken care of,” he said. For proper tourism management, it is important to have a balance between various short term measures.
“We should switch to pollution free green products, be it in hotels or houseboats. Environment-friendly products need to be promoted in a big way. Even waste management needs to have minimum impact on environment and efforts for inclusive growth of tourism should be there,” said Farooq shah, Director Tourism.
Saleem Beigh, Convener INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and former DG Tourism stressed on the need to have quality and responsible tourism. “Tourism strategies should be devised in a way so that mass tourism approach snowballs into an area based approach. We should not ignore cities for promoting peripheral tourism resorts,” said Beigh.
Columnist Arjumand Hussain Talib said, “there is a need of paradigm shift in approaching tourism. Kashmir has to be demilitarized in order to pave way for increase tourist arrivals at different tourist resorts.”
While explaining the eco-tourism as nature based, ecologically sustainable, where education and interpretation is a major constituent and local people are benefited, Kabir Arora, an environmentalist with IYCN said that Kashmir has a huge potential to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. “Role of Communities would help to bring out new dimensions in promoting eco-tourism in the valley along with protecting biodiversity,” he said.
New and Renewable Energy
Terming the non-conventional energy as “our future”, Aga Syed Ruhulla, Minister for Science and Technology speaking to a session dedicated to “New and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency,” said that the government has already prioritized the solar lights for the non-connected villages on the map of power development department.
“Around 1250 villages would be provided with solar lanterns in this year. The project has been already approved and money is being provided by the funding department. We are also providing some 15,150 solar lanterns to the Gujjars in different villages,” Ruhullah said.
For addressing local power needs for long-term solution to our energy needs with cost effectiveness, he said that the concerned department will commission 53 micro hydro-power projects of 2 MW each this year for which 23 had already been sanctioned.
“We are installing 20-25 solar power plants of 25-50 KW each in some district hospitals, Hazratbal shrine, Chrar-e-Sharief, Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, J&k legislature, high courts and secretariat both in Jammu and Kashmir divisions,” he said.
On state’s purchasing of energy worth Rs 2500 crore annually for its sustenance, Qalander termed it quite unfortunate despite having a potential of 20,000 MW of hydel energy and in ability not to generate more than 750 MW so far.
Prof Nisar Ali, Department of Economics University of Kashmir blamed some international treaties for not allowing proper harnessing of energy resources. “We should try to utilize biomass energy as an additional source of energy. Albeit, the working group set up by New Delhi had already recommended handling over of Dulhasti power project to the State but nothing happen so far,” he said.
For inefficiency of the power production and distribution system in the state Arjumand Hussain Talib said that political uncertainty is the main reason for not properly utilizing energy resources in a way they deserve to be. “Having a look at the track records of official figures our demand is going to double in a period of 20 years. We should look at nuclear energy as well which is another additional source of energy,” Talib said.
Quoting official figures he said that in the future J&K would be one of the least per capita consumers of electricity “In 2004-2005 , the state had a demand of 1706 MW which is going to increase to 2600 MW in 2012-2013 and 3500 MW in 2025-2026,” he said.
Kaihallo, Consultant in USA, ESSOLAR Technologies Inc said that solar photovoltaic will help in cost reduction factors with access to high quality and supply reliable chain. “We help the clients to develop new business strategies to recognize and define the opportunities and options across industry, market and geographical boundaries,” he said.
The special emphasis is laid upon Joint ventures, product development, Strategic Business Development, Grid connected and Standalone PV systems, Technology evaluation & forecasting, supply of PV products and economics of PV systems.
About energy security is the prime concern which needs to be addressed in a time bound manner, Rishab Khanna, Funding Director, IYCN said that the biogas can be used as an alternative for leveraging sustainable livelihood. “For energy efficiency and conservation, proper use of energy efficient appliances, buildings, fuel efficient cars, Smart grids and energy audits is a demand side solution,” he said.
Agriculture and Biodiversity
To develop sustainable methodologies for agriculture, which is one of the most important sector for economic growth of J&K, the final session on “Sustainable Agriculture and Biodiversity” was presided by Mian Altaf Ahmad, Minister for Forest and Environment.
“We all need to get concerned in saving our environmental assets. Our focus should be to protect our biodiversity at all costs, be it people’s consciousness, civil societies and other concerned departments,” he said.
In order to curb the menace of pollution control violators, he deliberated upon the need to have a proper mechanism to adopt Green and Clean Technologies to eliminate pollution to an optimum level.
Director Information, Farooq Ahmad Renzu, said that in order to preserve water-bodies and biodiversity in J&K, strict ban on use of polythene bags should be carried forward to root out it completely.
While emphasizing on the need to have demand side management, Dr Mohit Gera, IFS, Member Secretary J&K Pollution Control Board said that for increasing fuel wood use efficiency-Improved chullahs, Fuel wood substitution (Pine briquettes, biogas) with alternate energy source-Solar cookers are required.
“For Sustainable Forest Management Strategies, we need to highlight the advantages of Synergy between Mitigation & Adaptation, Rehabilitation of degraded forests & afforestation of wastelands, Promoting agro-forestry / farm forestry and Payment for environmental services (Financing conservation) and the like,” he said.
On prospectus of essential oil industry in J&K, Dr A S Shawl, head Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, said that plant species need to be promoted in Kashmir for health tourism with increased public -private partnership, private growers and user industries.
“As the world market for major essential oils constitutes about 80 percent, promotion of mint oils, Rose oil, Basil oil, Lavender oil, Lemon fragrance oils, Cedar wood oil, Rosemary, Lemon, and Geranium can be very fruitful for good agriculture health of the state,” he said.
Sustainable Industrial Economy for J&K
1. A sustainable industrial development action plan needs to be created this would include formation of separate policies for the different categories of industries of J&K i.e. white, red, green and orange. Strict environmental regulation needs to be put in place for red and orange industries while incentives are to be provided for green and white industries along with a Govt. action plan. Incentives could include licensing to be shifted from the pollution control board to the industries department and introducing soft loans.
2. Using high calorific value waste for utilization in cement kilns and using microbial technology for waste management in heavy industries.
3. Setting up a SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) knowledge centre and cross country e-networks that meet the demands of knowledge in areas of health, energy, water and other common concerns.
4. Bringing handicraft industry into the organized sector and supporting the local artisans.
5. Timely disposal of environmental clearances with all relevant departments like the state pollution control board, forest department and other govt. bodies working together with transparency.
6. Enhancing the service based economy in J&K and giving an impetus to the IT sector with special focus on youth employment. At least 20% allocation of IT service demands from the Govt. is to be met by the local IT vendors.
7. Green buffer zones need to be demarcated against stone crusher and cement industries away from well defined ecologically fragile and populated areas.
Solid Waste Management and Waste Water Treatment
1. Successful instances of community participation for lake management needs to be replicated in the Dal Lake and other degrading lakes.
2. Houseboat and city’s sanitation needs to be dealt separately and efficiently through STPs and subsequent plugging of all sources of waste being dumped into the lakes and rivers.
3. Decentralized model of waste management involving active participation of local stakeholders that involves communities & entrepreneurs.
4. Careful selection and implementation of tried and tested locally adapted composting & recycling technologies in a phase-wise manner
5. Possibilities of Biogas implementation in niche sectors need to be re-Iooked considering newer developments in Indian technology.
6. Gradual relocation of industry into clusters with integrated effluent treatment plant and waste management facilities.
7. Waste management projects to be brought under carbon financing to support their implementation.
Eco-TourismAn Eco-tourism policy is to be introduced under which
1. Declaring certain places as biospheres like Bang valley and Dhoodhpatri.
2. Heritage tourism should be promoted.
3. Area wise documentation that informs the tourists of the various attractions of any place in the state with special focus on local gastronomy and its promotion through food and fruit festivals.
4. Encouraging home stays in the state of J&K.
5. Sensitization of tourists and encouraging them to protect the environment during their stay. An instance of Amarnath yatra!
6. Involving nomad communities in adventure tourism and also waste collection.
7. Houseboats should be considered as a part of the lake ecosystem.
8. Regulation of tourist visits to certain areas that are ecologically fragile.
9. Connecting more places and destinations via air to and through Srinagar.
Biodiversity & Sustainable Agriculture
1. Existing diverse parks and wastelands in the state should be developed to include diverse medicinal and aromatic plants. Ex: Lavender, podophyllum.
2. Moratorium on Hangul populated areas and reduce human interference and commercial activities.
3. A complete ban on logging of timber for a substantial period owing to the vast timber destruction since the last few decades. Use of imported timber to cater to the state’s needs.
4. Promotion of sustainable agro forestry in private areas to cater to the demands of the entrepreneurs with a special focus on Walnut, Chinar, poplar, willows and other such species.
5. Formulation of a organic bio-diverse agricultural policy for the state which will include ensuring livelihood security, organic farming, strengthening of farmer collectives and recasting of the financial support systems.
6. Creation of a policy similar to Sikkim / Andhra Pradesh/ Karnataka with an emphasis on encouraging organic farming and taking a stand against GM food crops.
7. Grassroots communities in providing skills for natural resource management.
New & Renewable Energy / Energy Efficiency
1. A new and renewable energy policy that covers solar, wind, biomass, small hydro and the like in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
2. Biomass technology should be given top priority. The potential for generating energy (combined heat and power) without destroying natural habitats -has to be explored.
3. Transmission infrastructure has to be improved to reduce high losses during evacuation from renewable energy projects and clean, new and renewable energy fund with lower interest rate to be formed.
5. Under the guidance of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) State level policy needs to be created to comply with the national Mission on Enhance Energy Efficiency.
6. J&K is an energy starved state. It needs a finance mechanism through introduction of feed-in tariff policies for improving the energy market.
7. Compensation to be claimed for the losses incurred over the Indus water treaty.
8. Special focus on management of technology that could be implemented in J&K.
Also at the event Solutions Fair
The following are the companies and organizations that participated in solutions fair and set up stalls in the centre. All the organizations deal with issues of energy, water and waste.
Universal peace federation Delta Pure.
Loop environmental solutions.
Youth leader magazine.
Indian Youth Climate Network.
With a good footfall over the 2 dais, the fair was able to showcase new and innovative technology to members of Govt., industry and youth.
More than 200 students from institutions such as SP College, Kashmir University and Islamia College attended various events at the youth fest that was held in parallel to the technical sessions over the last two days.
Some of the highlights of the youth fest were
1. Workshop on Right to information and public interest litigation.
2. Climate leadership trainings.
3. Movie screenings. 4. Quiz competitions.
5. Introduction to student clean energy competition, COP16 in Mexico and other youth led initiatives in the world.
6. Personality development and discovering human values.