Blind Selling of Blue Gold
Published in our print edition dated 3rd August 2022
Kovind’s Concerns over Environment
Published in our print edition dated 27th July 2022
The new CAQM order and its impact on Paper Mills
Published in our print edition dated 20th July 2022
The new order prohibits any industry in the National Capital Region (NCR) to use coal for generation of steam in boilers both for process heat requirements as well as captive power generation. This has resulted in a critical situation for paper mills in the region.
Presently, coal is being used as fuel for steam generation. Steam provides heat to dry paper as well as in some of the mills to run turbines that generate electricity for the mill requirements. In absence of coal, biomass is an alternate fuel- not available in adequate quantities. Furthermore, the existing boilers which have been designed to run on coal cannot generate steam with desired pressure to run turbines; using biomass as fuel.
As discussed with mills, some of the mills have explored the possibility to operate boilers at reduced pressure and flow rate, of course with a loss of efficiency. But the design of many boilers prohibit these. Experts say, if the steam pressure is reduced, the specific volume increases, and hence maintaining the same flow rate from the boiler main nozzle is not possible. Modification in boilers is a difficult process.
Next alternative is PNG/CNG, a very costly affair. For the mills where steam-power cost is a major factor in costing, use of PNG would not be practically possible. Experts illustrate that use of PNG may increase cost by 2.5 times. Nevertheless, there is another alternative - use PNG to generate steam for heating and get grid connection for electricity requirements. By this, there could be a marginal increase of cost by Rs. 4-5 per kg of paper.
However, market conditions don’t allow this either. At present, paper rates in the NCR are being governed by Vapi-Morbi mills, which are near the port. Considering the freight factor, these mills get waste paper pretty easily at lower prices. Transportation of finished paper is easier compared to waste paper. Even a price increase of Rs.1.00 per kg makes it possible for the Vapi-Morbi mills to supply paper in the NCR.
A mill owner explained how regulations affect them. The industries using pet coke fuel were asked to install Flue Gas Desulfurizing (FGD), all of a sudden. There was a paucity of time to understand, to discuss or explore technology, or even to negotiate, and FGD units were installed on war footing. As the deadline approached, another order issued and sale, purchase, stock and consumption of pet coke was banned. All efforts, all investment went useless.
So, what are the options the paper mills are left away with? Use of biomass? What if, sooner or later, a new regulation comes to stop use of biomass also? Hence, many of these mills have started exploring alternate locations. Now, they fear - "What if the Government increases NCR boundaries?" This, however, is not an easy solution. Shifting of a mill involves replacement of a lot of equipment. Experts say, even a centrifugal pump or electric panel working fine at the current location, may need a change if the plant is shifted. Moreover, a typical average size mill in NCR needs at least Rs.200-300 crore investment to relocate. But for the sake of doing smooth business, these industries are trying to get rid of NCR locations. An unpleasant surprise is that some have even started exploring moving to other countries.
Taking all these into account, let’s hope that the environment of Delhi and NCR would be cleaner. We can only hope. Because what experience tells is different. From adoption of CNG fuelled vehicles to pet coke ban in industries, and from CPCB in governance to CAQM; nothing has resulted in desired results.
Environmental Labs Masking Data
NABL must ensure Data Quality
Published in our print edition dated 13th July 2022
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been emphasising quality of life, quality of education, quality of products. In his 2021 Independence Day Speech, the Prime Minister deliberated on even moving a step further than attaining highest quality standards in order to sustain in the global competition. He stated “I want to say emphatically to all the manufacturers of the country, that you should never forget that the product you sell overseas is not just a product made by your company, it is the identity of our nation, India's prestige and the faith of all the citizens of our country.”
Though, Prime Minister didn’t categorically mention Service Quality, it has an equal importance in everyday life as well. It is an integral part of manufacturing.
On searching, the definition of Quality is described in many ways - “fitness for use,” “customer satisfaction,” “doing things right the first time,” or “zero defects.” Webster’s dictionary defines quality as “a degree of excellence” and “superiority in kind”.
When it comes to the subject of environment, quality of both products and services matter. On one hand, such products may be pollution control devices used in manufacturing plants to treat aqueous, gaseous and solid wastes; while on the other hand, there are products for acoustic treatment of sound, and also various components related to such treatments. Besides, there are devices and online systems to quantify the quality of air, water, soil and noise environment.
Quality of laboratory services also play a key role in the quantification and data generation. To maintain laboratory data quality, India has adopted an accreditation system, widely known as NABL accreditation. National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) is an accreditation body that certifies ISO 17025, since 2005. It’s a constituent of the Quality Council of India (QCI). NABL is not limited to accreditation of environmental laboratories. Any testing laboratories, calibration laboratories, medical testing laboratories can avail accreditation based on specific requirements.
Even after 17 years of implementation of ISO 17025: 2005, reports issued by laboratories bearing the #NABL symbol contain terrible errors. There are a plethora of examples of incorrect, improper reporting by environmental laboratories. Interestingly, these erring reports successfully penetrate through Expert Appraisal Committees pertaining to environmental clearances of sensitive projects under EIA Notification; and Compliance reports.
Such reports containing flawed data are not limited to private laboratories. Government run environmental laboratories often issue ambiguous and wrong reports. Most alarming is, oftentimes, one can even trace test reports bearing imperfect and wrong data appended with Joint Committee reports submitted to National Green Tribunal (NGT). Obviously, such mischievous acts badly influence right environmental justice.
At a time, when the whole world including India is concerned about carbon emissions, most of our environmental laboratories prevent us from getting appropriate emission data. The stack emission monitoring reports are found without test protocol, misleading data, and incomplete parameters. Moreover, this occurs in spite of clear cut standards specified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Another major concern is that some laboratories issue reports with masked data to favour a customer’s evil intention. This is against the impartiality clause of ISO 17025 standards. It has severe ramifications in certain cases - because environmental issues have direct impacts on the health of living beings including humans. A befitting way to avert this challenge could be an immediate revision of standard reporting formats or or introduction of new ones. It is also important because the emission standards are changing dynamically. The Bureau of Indian Standards may have to take up this with NABL, and CPCB.
Further, ISO 17025 has a provision for complaint. It’s defined as an expression of dissatisfaction by any person or organisation to a laboratory relating to the activities or results of that laboratory. To ensure environmental data quality, the complaint procedure must be simplified and transparent. In the digital age, it should be made clearly visible on a laboratory’s website. NABL can certainly make it possible.
Property Tax linked to Good Environment
Published in our print edition dated 6th July 2022
Environmental issues have always been addressed from the top. In fact, when the Ministry of Environment and Forest was created for the first time, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi himself was in charge of the Ministry.
On 1st July 2022, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi shared a social media message on Twitter “Unseemly Mountains of Garbage surround Delhi. Stinking heaps over 50m high in the Capital are not only grave health hazards but a National Shame!”
The LG sought suggestions and participation from Delhitees in the efforts to take out Delhi of over 28 million MT of waste. There were 159 comments till this write-up was prepared.
The LG didn’t stop after raising his concerns on garbage mountains. Next day his tweet was “By discharging 784 MGD sewage in Yamuna, we’ve converted our lifeline into a muck filled drain. It's time we treat all sewage generated & reuse rather than dump it into the holy river.” He again sought people’s suggestions and participation. The message got 68 comments in reply.
Another tweet on 3rd July stating “With constant poor/severe AQI, Delhi is choking on the air that it breathes. We generate most of the pollutants ourselves. Let's come together and pledge to free us of this Gas Chamber.” LG again asked people of Delhi for suggestions and participation to ensure Delhi air breathable. 73 comments were received. However, the Central Pollution Control Board data shows a different picture with lower 24-hourly AQI. Moreover, Delhi can not be a gas chamber. It’s rather choked with dust, ultrafine particulates.
The 4th July tweet from the LG of Delhi reads “With a shortage of 280 MGD, Delhi's water demands are unsustainable. Instead of blaming others, let us together make the Capital self-sufficient by conserving water & augmenting our groundwater.” It got 82 replies.
On 5th July, LG tweeted “Yamuna has zero Dissolved Oxygen & its BOD & Fecal Coliform levels exceed limits by 2,400% & 31,500% respectively. While this makes any life unsustainable, it also pollutes the river downstream.” And the tweet got 55 comments in reply.
This certainly shows that the LG of Delhi is trying to encourage participation of common people of Delhi. Taking along people is definitely a wise way to handle problems.
However, let’s look back to the 1st July responses on the worldwide issue - waste management. Among the responses, one said, first and foremost - the MCD election. Some tried to explore opportunities, while there were few grievances too. Some tried to hijack the matter with their own concerns, which don’t have any link with waste management issues.
There were some worthy replies too. People suggested a crackdown on the waste mafia, adoption of scientific processing and dumping. Ideas of generator pay principle also came. Control of illegal waste going to landfill came out. Waste clothes from Gandhi nagar area landing in Ghazipur, which must be stopped. Someone tipped that Delhi industrial waste management must be audited. There was a proposal to initiate waste management education starting from class-I. A suggestion for MCD to collect scrap from door to door with award and reward was also found. People underlined waste segregation at source, followed by other measures such as composting, and recycling. One suggestion was waste segregation at source followed by further segregation at zone level in every district.
Alas!!! Noone shared what the LG had to do. MCD serves 94% of Delhi. LG says, past financial mismanagement and non payment of property tax by 75% residents has made it go into the red. The LG has asked the people of Delhi to pay MCD dues with honesty, stating that Delhi is one of richest cities in India. Residents of India’s capital city must not default. Or else, garbage mountains may grow to the height of high rises. #MCD Share your comment
Ban all Sachets for good environment
Published in our Print edition dated 29th June 2022
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has released a list of single-use plastic items prohibited from 1st July 2022. The list has four categories (1) Plastic Sticks (2) Cutlery Items (3) Packaging / Wrapping Films and (4) Other items. Sachets used for packaging of shampoos, oils, and many other domestic products are not listed anywhere.
However, CPCB has stated that as per the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, there is a complete ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala. This is a good work, half done. The sachets are widely associated with ketchup to cosmetics, from laundry detergent to seasoning and snacks. These sachets pose a greater threat to the environment. Not only the plastic wastes cause environmental concerns. Also, the left away residue inside the sachets add to the fury of plastic waste by degrading soil and water quality.
According to Reuters, London-listed Unilever plc (ULVR.L), a pioneer in selling sachets, has privately fought to derail bans on the problematic packaging despite saying publicly it wants to get rid of them. Unilever's India subsidiary, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), is widely credited as being the first to mass market products in sachets when it started selling tiny portions of shampoo for one rupee in the 1980s.
Recently, speaking at the 89th Annual General Meeting on 23rd June 2022, HUL Chairman Nitin Paranjpe said in 2021, HUL became plastic neutral, which means, it collected and disposed of more plastic waste from the streets of India than the plastic used in the packaging of the finished products. This is one of the most misleading statements. The company has to talk specifically about its own waste. More so, about the waste sachets, due to which India has been reeling on tremendous environmental challenges.
HUL is a gigantic brand doing business in India. When India has already eighty sixed some of the sachet packaging, why HUL remains silent on the sachet elimination programme? HUL website does not share any information on its plan to eliminate sachet packaging. It says it will collect and process more plastic than it sells. Does that solve the problems existing for the last four decades from sachet selling?
The tiny plastic packets known as sachets have allowed companies to tap millions of low-income customers in the developing world but also unleashed a global pollution crisis. Though, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has covered plastic sachet or pouches under the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in its Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022 notified on 16th February 2022 vide G.S.R. 133(E), it must be remembered that these tiny sachets are also hard to collect, sort and wash. Often sold without proper waste collection, these single-use sachets end up as litter, clogging waterways and harming wildlife. Recycling technology has repeatedly flopped and struggled to achieve commercial scale despite heavy promotion by plastic makers and consumer goods firms, Reuters revealed last year.
As quoted in the Reuters report, Environmentalists like Sian Sutherland, founder of A Plastic Planet, say governments need to impose bans on sachets to stimulate real change. "Then we will create the vacuum that innovation will rush in and fill," she said.
There are plenty of reports showing the bad character of this single-use plastic item called sachet. Flood is a big concern in which India loses human and animal lives; those are never counted. Hence, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change also needs to revisit the notified list of items banned. Sachets must be added to the list. This will be the full good work to protect India’s environment. Share your comment
Climate, Water and Amrit Sarovars
Published in our Print edition dated 22nd June 2022
NABET, Attention Please
Published in our Print edition dated 15th June 2022
World Accreditation Day (WAD) is observed on 9th June. WAD was jointly initiated by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) with an aim to raise awareness of the importance of accreditation-related activities.
Soil: The Chemical, Physical & Biological Powerhouse
Why so much silence?
People rarely discussing Biological Diversity, Wildlife Protection Amendment Bills
Noise Pollution Insights
Resizing Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary
Published in our 4th May 2022 Print Edition
Boost C&D Wastes Recycling to curb Sand Mining
Published in our 27th April 2022 Print Edition
Sand plays an indispensable part in human life. It has a major role in construction. Though the required quantity is too less, it also has a place in rituals. Even then, it’s too difficult to define sand on a scientific line. Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles between 150 micron to 4.75 mm in diameter (Indian Standard Specification IS 383-1970). Sand is formed due to weathering of rocks due to mechanical forces. In the process the weathered rocks form gravel and then sand.
World Heritage Forests, Carbon Sinks
Published in our 20th April 2022 Print Edition
Since 1982, International Day for Monuments and Sites has been observed on 18th April. This year’s theme is Heritage and Climate. The theme has wider relevance as climate change is one of the defining issues of current time, and among the greatest threats facing cultural and natural.
Differentiate CER from CSR to make it effective
Green Governance must for Good Health
6th April 2022
Theme of World Health Day this year is Our Planet, Our Health. Very justified, and judicious. The corona pandemic is not yet over. The planet is becoming increasingly polluted day by day. Diseases like cancer, asthma, heart disease, et al are on the rise. In such a situation, on World Health Day 2022, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is focussing global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being.
States, UTs ignoring importance of CBWTD?
Published in our Print Edition on 30th March 2022
Controlling Air Pollution Data
Published in our Print Edition on 16th March 2022
Top Indians leaders have been reiterating India’s commitment towards environmental conservation. Basic environmental awareness has increased in several parts of the country. Weak areas are successfully identified by activists and media. Now, environmental issues are often discussed in both the Houses of Parliament. In spite of so much focus from everyone, authentic and valid environmental data has remained a major concern. On 14th March 2022, while replying to questions raised by Ashok Kumar Rawat, Member of Parliament, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav mentioned that there is no established mechanism for ranking the cities in terms of pollution. It also requires authentic data and proper peer review. Several private institutions and universities rank cities by adopting different methodologies, different sets of data and using different weightage to parameters. The Union Minister also stated that the data used for ranking is extracted primarily from satellite imageries, which are not validated by proper ground truthing. And, easy access to similar unreliable data affects perception and beliefs of common mass. Advertise/ Subscribe to read more
Something About Hydroinformatics
Water security is a major – and growing – challenge for many countries today. The global population is spiralling, and estimates show that with current practices, the world will face a 40% shortfall between forecasted demand and available supply of water by 2030. Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 would require a 60% increase in agricultural production, which consumes 70% of water resources today, and a 15% increase in water withdrawals. More free reading
Basics of Fuel Hydrogen
Are Solar Projects Really Environment-friendly?
Quit Cigarette for Climate
16th February 2022
In a move to fight against microplastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) are ...
It generates 55 Mt wastewater. The sector’s annual climate change impact at 84 Mt CO2 eq is comparable to entire countries’ emissions and 0.2% of the global ..
Why HSPCB displayed a trader’s product to Union Ministers?
Amidst the reigning, though diminishing fear of Corona, on the eve of World Wetlands Day 2022, a national level programme was organised at Sultanpur National Park, which falls within the ambit of Haryana’s Gurugram District administration. Quite close to New Delhi. The Chief Minister of Haryana presided over the function. Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav as Chief Guest, and the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Ashwani Kumar Choubey as Special Guest, graced the special occasion. It was a limited, but meaningful gathering. Children from school also participated. A few stalls of exhibition were also there. Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) and Hero MotoCorp were on the most prominent spots from the entry point. Haryana State Biodiversity Board, Haryana Pond and Wastewater Management Authority, Maharashtra Bamboo Development Board from Nagpur were among others. Subscribe to read more
One of the major aspects of the complaint was about the excess mining beyond the permissible limit and throughout day and night. Also, mining beyond the designated lease area. The NGT also observed in its order dated 2nd December 2020 that the most glaring illegality was to grant Consent to Operate (CTO) by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) Subscribe to read more
Tribute to India’s Iconic Tigress
19th January 2022
India is home to more than 70% of the world's tigers. As per latest estimates, tiger population in India stood at 2,967. Madhya Pradesh is house to maximum 526 tigers, followed by Karnataka’s 524. Tiger is our national and culture heritage and therefore revered by many Nationals as its National Animal.