Monthly Archives: February 2012

Renewable Energy – Our Future!

Day 3: The day began with a lecture by Dr. PBL Chaurasia, Principal,VyasEngineeringCollegefor Girls,Jodhpur, on the scope of renewable energy sources, with a focus on solar energy. Dr. Chaurasia has carried out research at Fuel Cell Laboratory,UniversityofBermingham.

We learnt that while India has 17% of the world’s population it has an electricity consumption of 2%. At present,Indiahas an installed capacity of 1,85,500 MW and the National Solar Mission envisages to achieve solar power of 20,000 MW by 2020. According to Dr. Chaurasia, “Thar Desertalone has the solar potential to meet the entire power requirement of the country.” He introduced us to various innovative solar devices like solar candle making machine, solar still, solar PV pump and integrated solar device (heater, cooker, dryer combined). We also came to know about an innovation called passive cool chamber- a refrigerator which runs without electricity (Rs. 5000). It works on the principle of evaporative cooling, keeping the vegetables and fruits fresh for 3-5 days and milk products for 3-5hrs.

For the next session, Mr. Vikas Balia a corporate lawyer spoke about industrial pollution and economic growth. He began by speaking about the textile industry of western Rajasthan, and how the hand processing units use harmful chemical dyes which the treatment plants are unable to treat. However he felt that, “Conservation without growth holds no meaning; shutting down industries is not an option, they may just shift to another place.”

He observed that currently there is market failure in allocating resources efficiently. So, he advocated technology led solutions and an equitable distribution of cost for environmental conservation. Along with this, Mr. Balia proposed that policy makers should adopt a holistic approach and that law should be aligned with economics, to do away with regional imbalances.

In the afternoon it was time to visit a recharge well (beri) in Judia. We were accompanied by a camel which caused much amusement to the champions! 

Next we visited Suzlon’s monitoring station at Balesar to learn about wind turbine generators (WTGs). The station monitors the 91 WTGs owned by various companies that generate a cumulative power of 140 MW. We enquired the cost and found out that 1MW WTG amounts to roughly Rs. 6 crore with an operational cost of Rs. 15,00,000-16,00,000. The power generated is fed into the state grid and the companies are paid for it by the government. We felt very fortunate to visit one turbine, equal in height to a 25 storey building.

Some myths were dispelled here, such as wind turbines cause noise pollution and being the cause of death for birds.

The surrounding picturesque landscape at sunset provided the perfect ambience to retrospect on the day’s learning.

Reading of the day: ‘The Rational Optimist’ by Matt Ridley (Recommended by Mr. Vikas Balia)

 Preeti & Rozita, International Climate Champions

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Rain Water Harvesting = Water for all

Day 2 of the camp began with an extremely positive insight into how an arid saline wasteland could be transformed into a vast green campus with 15 lakes. This impossible task had been achieved at the Aravali Institute of Management by its inspiring Director Mr. Varun Arya, an alumnus of IIT and IIM. “This change that was effected within 6 years involved a lot of political and societal struggle”, said Mr. Arya as he explained about how they had used the traditional water harvesting system of Jodhpur. “Through this system we could fill up 6 lakes during a single rainfall”, he added. The process involved setting up saline resistant plantations, removing the existing English Babool (a plant which causes infertility of soil) apart from rain water harvesting. The lecture inspires that anything is possible with the right passion and compassion.

Mrs. Kanupriya, Project Director at Jal Bhagirathi Foundation (JBF)was the second speaker of the day and she explained the work done by her organization and how water is an integral part of the culture of Marwar region of Rajasthan. JBF works with over 300 villages in rural Rajasthan to revive traditional rain water harvesting structures to achieve water security. Two documentaries; ‘Rain for Change’ and ‘Water for All’ were screened on the same. It was incredible to know how access to a reliable supply of water had brought tremendous socio-economic improvements in people’s life including sanitation and increased enrolment of girls in schools.

In the afternoon we visited a village Shivnagar in Pali district, Jodhpur where a resource management plan and water harvesting system had been implemented by JBF.  A group from the community greeted us with a Tikka, jaggery and big smiles. We were given a tour of the Talab, where rainwater had been collected via the catchment area, with details of the structure and how the salinity of the water decreases during the summer. When we arrived at the village, the children were the first to run up, curious to know who had arrived.

Interestingly, the village had a lady Sarpanch who had been empowered through the support of the Jal Bhagirathi Foundation to an extent that she also helps the development process through a number of other villages. We also saw the social map of the village drawn on a wall as part of the PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) exercise conducted earlier. This marked the houses which had toilets, the houses below the poverty line and other resources in the village such as the community centre.

At the end of the day we were mesmerized by the idea that- An area with just 200mm of rainfall can have access to clean water all year round just by reviving the traditional systems of water harvesting.

Digu Aruchamy, Prajitha T (International Climate Champions India) and Jessica McQuade, International Climate Champion UK

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International Climate Champions from UK, China, Bangladesh and India at Jodhpur

After about three hours of flying across three states we arrived at Jodhpur , and our entry into the Water Habitat Retreat was flagged by the royal appearance of the building which served to be a visual treat for us. This structure which was once the hunting palace of the Maharaja is now a representation of the traditional water conservation mechanism with one of the largest catchment areas. With a lake and an annicut to keep us company through our stay, our learning will turn out to be a more visual.

We were given basic information about the city of Jodhpur by Mr.Karni Singh, Director of Mehrangarh Fort Trust. We then proceeded for a ‘Water Walk’ which basically was to enlighten us about the various water conservation systems of Jodhpur that were present within the campus. We were assisted by Mrs.Kanupriya, Project Director of Jal Bhagirathi Foundation, an NGO which is reviving traditional Water harvesting systems in Jodhpur. Apart from the technical explanations we also came to know about the history of the palace and various other interesting stories which included haunted areas in the campus.

The day ended with a briefing on what we would be experiencing in the coming week and we dispersed with high expectations on what is in store for us.

Digu Aruchamy, Prajitha T (International Climate Champions India) and Jessica McQuade, International Climate Champion UK

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