Smog digest is a news service on vehicular pollution based on news clippings selected from leading Indian newspapers and newsmagazine.
It also highlights the key developments from South Asian countries. The months witnessed lots of action and developments on the vehicular pollution front in India.
Air we breathe in is more polluted now: Forsake your private vehicles and go for `pool' transport. The drastic increase in vehicular pollution in residential areas of Lucknow is due to substantial increase in vehicles plying on city roads. Going for pool transport could be the contribution of Lucknowites towards saving the environmental quality. The `assessment of environmental status of Lucknow' report released by Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) does not portend well for health of Lucknowites. "Pollutant concentrations in terms of suspended/respirable particulate matter (SPM and RSPM) in urban atmosphere of Lucknow city has been found to be two to five times higher than national standards", said the study report. The assessment of ambient air quality of city was carried out at 10 locations --- Aliganj, Vikasnagar, Indiranagar, Gomtinagar, Hussainganj, Charbagh, Alambagh, Aminabad, Chowk and Amausi -- during September-October 2009 with respect to SPM, RSPM, SO2 and NO and noise level.
Source: The Times of India, Lucknow, November 6, 2009.
Smog envelops capital: Thick smog shrouded the capital today, amplifying concerns that a steady growth in the number of vehicles might be neutralising Delhi’s environmental gains from the shift to compressed natural gas as fuel for public transport. An abrupt drop in wind speed last night prevented normal dispersal of fine dust particles and vehicle emissions, generating a haze that obscured visibility across the city through Saturday, meteorologists said. PTI reports suggested poor visibility claimed 10 lives today. Seven students were injured when a truck hit a school bus this morning. Environment scientists said the smog today was a signal that the air quality was deteriorating to levels before 2001-03, when the Delhi government launched a clean-up drive. It replaced a fleet of about 6,000 diesel-powered buses with CNG vehicles, ordered three-wheelers and taxis to shift to CNG and banned commercial vehicles older than 15 years.
Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, November 8, 2009.
Overnight, air is more poisonous: India has revised standards for air quality for the first time in 15 years in a move that environmental experts say will overnight tar more cities and localities across the country as polluted beyond limits. The new standards notified by the environment ministry have lowered maximum limits for pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that carry the risk of respiratory illness and introduced new limits for pollutants left out earlier. The limits will be the same across residential, industrial, and rural areas under the new standards, which will end the practice of providing less stringent limits for industrial zones. The new limits, developed by the Central Pollution Control Board in consultation with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, will replace existing standards notified in 1994. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said the new limits will push air quality standards in India to European levels. “But the big question is enforcement of standards.
Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, November 19, 2009.
Deadly pygmy called PM 2.5: The city’s smallest but deadliest enemy was today given a name — PM 2.5.This fine pollutant spewed mainly by automobile exhaust, measuring less than 2.5 micron in diameter and invading the innermost parts of the lungs, made its debut in the national ambient air quality standards announced in the capital. PM (particulate matter) 2.5 from polluting buses, taxis and autos — that enjoy a free run on the city streets thanks to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s inaction and Mamata Banerjee’s indifference — enter the bronchi and alveoli, causing irreparable damage to lungs and serious health hazards. “Particulate less than 2.5 micron are mainly responsible for the respiratory diseases rampant in Calcutta as they enter the respiratory tract. Also, the new standard has been announced on World COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Day, and this disease should increasingly be linked to fine particulate in the air we breathe,” said A.G. Ghosal, the director of the National Allergy Asthma & Bronchitis Institute off Park Circus.
Source: The Telegraph, Kolkata, November 19, 2009.
Revised air quality norms notified: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has notified the Revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), 2009, which provide a legal framework for control of air pollution and protection of public health. The revised norms have come 15 years after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had notified the previously existing NAAQS in 1994. The new norms are in league with those of the European Union and World Health Organisation and include five new pollutants: ozone, arsenic, nickel, benzene and benzo(a)pyrene. The existing seven parameters of suspended particulate matter(SPM), respirable particulate matter (RPM), sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, ammonia and lead also remain in the new norms. Though mercury has not been notified as part of these revised standards, the MoEF plans to monitor it. Importantly, the ministry has put in place uniform standards for residential and industrial areas.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, November 19, 2009.
Pollution norms up in smoke: The new ambient air quality checks that have been prescribed for residential areas have become a cause of worry for the Delhi government. Since parameters like ozone, ammonia and arsenic have never been measured for the city, officials say it will take at least one year to know how Delhi fares on these fronts. And only after that measures to curb their figures can be thought of and put into action. After the new norms were notified, certain pollutants like NO2 which, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) measurements, were within earlier standards of 60 micrograms/cu m at 50 in 2008 are now beyond permissible limits with the new standard at 40. Particulate matter has always been a problem and is much beyond permissible limits. Benzene, an addition to the list, which was being monitored earlier but not continuously, is also being seen as a problem.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 22, 2009.
‘Chandni Chowk, Sarojini Ngr critically polluted’: Delhi exceeds the new pollution norms consistently and if the new standards are to be applied, Chandni Chowk and Sarojini Nagar now fall in the ‘critically polluted’ zone, with one-and-a-half times the prescribed standards, says pollution data for November and the past year accessed by Newsline. The prescribed standards have been tightened as pollution levels have shown an upward trend nationwide. As per the new norms, the annual average for nitrogen dioxide is supposed to be 80 milligrams per metre cube (mg/m3) and the Particulate Matter standard (PM) is 60 mg/m3 annually. But as per air-monitoring data by the Central Pollution Control Board, annual average of the PM level in Sarojini Nagar is 180 mg/m3. At Town Hall, the figure was 278 mg/m3. Nitrogen oxide levels at the South Delhi colony was measured at 69 mg/m3, while at Town Hall it was 77 mg/m3, says the data. According to the pollution control board’s data, carbon monoxide, a pollutant that affects the oxygen carrying capacity of blood, is also at an alarming high in the city.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, November 28, 2009.
City has high levels of smog-forming ozone: Dangerous levels of ground-level ozone that causes respiratory ailments could be enveloping Chennai, but the city, like other Indian metros, is blissfully unaware of it in the absence of a monitoring system. A study taken up by Sri Ramachandra Medical College (SRMC) for the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under the Indo-US occupational and environmental health programme substantiates this concern. "Early findings of the study show that the presence of ozone could be as severe if not more severe compared to the west," said Kalpana Balakrishnan, head of environment, health and engineering department, SRMC. The two-year study, being done in T Nagar, Vallalar Nagar and Porur, is expected to complete in another year. Ground-level ozone is the prime component of smog that can cause asthma and several other pulmonary disorders.
Source: The Times of India, Chennai, January 9, 2010.
Polluters off roads, city breathes easy: Fruit-seller Raju Haldar doesn't have to rub his eyes or hurry to a tap to wash his face every hour, leaving his rickety basket in the care of a neighbouring vendor at Sealdah. Neither does he cough violently before going to bed at night. The air is cleaner and Raju vouches for it. So do most Kolkatans for whom a walk down the thoroughfare is no longer a nightmarish journey through noxious fumes, adulterated fuel-induced smoke and choking dust. Those suffering from asthma, breathlessness, skin allergies and other pollution-related disorders have finally got some respite. Ever since polluting vehicles were withdrawn four months ago, the city has been breathing easy. Figures emerging from a Times of India-SAFE survey confirm that. The survey was conducted at Shyambazar, Mullickbazar, Sealdah and Rashbehari crossings. A comparison with last year's pollution figures reveal that despite the onset of winter that pushes up the SPM and RPM levels in the air there has been a sharp drop in hydrocarbon levels at the city's most congested intersections.
Source: The Times of India, Kolkata, November 30, 2009.
Children facing brunt of air pollution: Most of them have not heard of global warming or Green House Gas emissions, but children across the State are falling victim to vehicular pollution at a worrying rate. Exhaust from vehicles is identified as the prime source of air pollution in most areas of the State as industrial activities are limited or concentrated in some pockets. According to doctors, various respiratory problems are up in children, and they are also complaining of ailments like irritation of the eye, nausea, and skin infection. According to a senior doctor at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, the effects of pollution have become pronounced in children during the last few years. More young boys and girls are coming in with illness that can be traced to pollution. The most vulnerable are very young school going children, who are unable to take basic precautionary steps. “The respiratory tracts of children are very sensitive, and slightest amounts of pollution can cause irritation. In larger amounts, pollutants can cause serious harm to various organs,” he said.
Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, December 7, 2009.
Eco-friendly vehicles rally held in Delhi: A first-ever rally of eco-friendly vehicles with the theme 'Save the Earth' was hosted in the national capital on Sunday. Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit flagged off the rally, held on the eve of the fourth EFV (Environment Friendly Vehicle) Conference, a biannual international conference, under the World Forum for Harmonisation of vehicles. Another objective of this rally was to spread awareness about various alternatives for conventional fuels like petrol and diesel. Organisers contended that eco-friendly vehicles would come as a boon to a city like New Delhi which is known for having the largest number of vehicles in India and is faced with a steadily growing traffic problem. "This rally that is taking place here today, I hope that through this people will realise that vehicles with cleaner fuel are also being made in India now. It is up to all Indians to accept them. There will be difficulties naturally, but they will also be tackled with, but it is extremely important to bring cleaner fuels and alternative fuels to use, else it will severely effect the environment," said Shiela Dikshit, chief of Delhi.
Switch to dual fuel next yr: The switch to dual fuel for vehicles, consisting of hydrogen and CNG, will happen by next year. “In the next 12–15 months, we expect the commercial usage of dual fuel across vehicles,” said Pawan Goenka, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and president of Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M). Goenka was speaking on the sidelines of today’s ‘4th Environment Friendly Vehicles Conference’. The fuel mixture would consist of 10–15 per cent of hydrogen and the balance contributed by CNG. The move, spearheaded both by SIAM and the government, is aimed at reducing the emission of noxious oxides by CNG fuelled vehicles, and for better fuel combustion. Currently, around 2 million vehicles powered by CNG fuel operate in the country out of which Delhi has the highest population of CNG vehicles. Automobile manufacturers like Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leylank, Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, and Bajaj Auto are part of the pilot studies for dual fuel usage that is currently underway.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, November 24, 2009.
Green cars hit sops hurdle: Development of Environment-Friendly Vehicles (EFV) by Indian manufacturers is a 'chicken and egg' story. While vehicle makers are looking for fiscal incentives from the government to support development of alternate fuel technologies such as hybrids and electric vehicles, the latter is awaiting development of "substantial" numbers of such vehicles before coming forward with any incentives. S N Dash, secretary in the Union Ministry of Heavy Industry, told DNA Money that any decision on sops for EFV development would be taken after a meeting of the high powered 'Development Council' next month. At present, there is hardly any incentivisation for EFV development other than some duty concessions for electric vehicles. Pending EFV incentivisation proposals include 50% subsidisation for indigenous development of hybrids. Also, programmes such as the National Hybrid Propulsion Programme (NHPP) and another one to develop an optimal mixture of CNG and hydrogen are hanging fire, largely because of lack of government funding.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, Mumbai, November 24, 2009.
Lighter levies to ensure hybrid cars soon to be cheaper: Hybrid and eco-friendly cars such as Honda Civic, the soon to be launched Toyota Prius, Nissan Altima and GM Taheo could become cheaper as the government looks at trimming duties on such vehicles. Union minister for heavy industries and public enterprises Vilasrao Deshmukh said on Monday that his department plans to cut import duties on hybrid vehicles and will approach the finance ministry for the same. “There is scope for changes in the duty structure and my department will recommend to the finance ministry to alter the high import duties levied on import of such vehicles.” Currently, import of all vehicles, including hybrid, attract over 100% in duties and taxes, making it highly expensive for Indian customers.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, November 24, 2009.
Tata Motors working on hybrid buses: The country’s largest manufacturer of buses, Tata Motors, will roll out hybrid buses for the domestic market in the next few years, said Ravi Pisharody, its president (commercial vehicles). On the sidelines of today’s Environmentally Friendly Vehicles Conference held here, another company executive said the hybrid buses (which can switch between diesel and the battery to run its engine) would incorporate the latest technology. “As the technology for alternative fuel vehicles is constantly evolving, we are constantly evaluating the ideal one suited for our buses meant for the domestic market. It will take some time for the launch of these buses.” Hybrid buses, say industry executives, are ideal for city transportation, characterised by numerous stops, slow-moving traffic and engines idling at traffic signals. “A lot of fuel is burnt. In the case of a hybrid bus this does not happen, since during idling, the engine actually charges the battery packs,” says a researcher from Tata Motors’ Engineering Research Centre who was present at the conference.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, November 27, 2009.
Govt set to rate cars for fuel efficiency: It’s been more than two years in the pipeline but the ministry of power is now ready to rate cars for their fuel efficiency. So in the new year, when you go hunting for a new set of wheels, a star label on the car’s windshield could help you decide if you are getting your money’s worth. To begin with, the labelling would be voluntary for manufacturers. But it would still be easy for consumers to make out why some manufacturers don’t want their products labelled. In a year’s time, labelling will become mandatory under a strict grading system. The proposed label will not only suggest the new car’s ideal mileage but also tell the buyer how the car performs compared to other models in the same category. The categories would be created on the basis of the vehicle’s weight. The best performer would be given 5 stars and the others would get fewer stars depending on their mileage.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, December 28, 2009.
Small cars to create maximum buzz at Auto Expo: A clutch of small cars from global carmakers and a lineup of electric and hybrid vehicles are expected to generate maximum buzz at the Milestones for auto sector. The expo will see a number of small car launches — concepts from Honda, Toyota and Suzuki, Polo from Volkswagen, Micra from Nissan and Figo from Ford vying for a piece of India’s small car market. Green vehicles will join the roster with every participating company from Toyota to Honda and Hyundai to Suzuki looking to display their wares — either existing hybrids and electric models or new concepts. Global carmakers are looking to enter India, the largest market for small cars in the world, in a big way as their traditional markets in the developed world are yet to recover fully from the impact of the economic downturn. About 1.6 million small cars were sold in 2009 with the segment accounting for almost 75% of all cars sold in the country. And some like GM will display partnership products such as the electric Spark it’s developing in collaboration with Reva.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 3, 2010.
Electric vehicles to rule at Auto Expo: Everyone’s laughed at the sight of a Reva on the road. “Oh that small little car isn’t practical at all, we say. The cost doesn’t make sense Most awaited car launches Electric vehicles to rule Auto Expo either.” As the decade ends and the global warming debate hots up, mindsets are changing. Home to the second largest population in the world, the Indian market is attracting attention from car makers across the globe to showcase their electric vehicle (EV) technologies. This year’s Auto Expo, will feature a number of EVs which are out to prove that running an EV could get practical, very soon. Every major car manufacturer is talking electric. Nissan, Hyundai, Tata and even Mahindra. At the Auto Expo, giving company to General Motors’ EVs will be the Honda EV-N, Renault Twizy ZE and the world famous Toyota Prius Hybrid. too has joined the EV bandwagon and will be showcasing an i10 EV at the Auto Expo. The launch though will be at a later date.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 3, 2010.
Delhi government plans charging booths for electric cars: If vehicle manufacturers have introduced green cars at the Delhi Auto Expo, the city-state’s administration has decided to do its bit to reduce carbon footprint: provide electric charge stations. The Delhi government is also planning incentives like base price discount, lower VAT, and road tax and registration charge refund to boost the sale of environment-friendly electric cars. “We will be ready to provide electric charge stations in Delhi when such cars will be ready for launch in India. The government wants to bring down the city’s pollution level,” a senior government official said. The government is already providing a 15% subsidy on the base price of the Reva, the first Indian-made electric car, along with 12.5% VAT exemption, and road tax and registration charge refund. Several manufacturers are exhibiting environment-friendly electric and hybrid cars at the Auto Expo, inaugurated on Monday.
Source: Daily News and Analysis, New Delhi, January 4, 2010.
Ashok Leyland unveils India's first electric plug-in CNG hybrid bus: Hinduja group's flagship company Ashok Leyland today unveiled the country's first electric plug-in CNG hybrid bus, HYBUS, at the Auto Expo here. Unveiling the bus, Ashok Leyland Managing Director R Seshasayee said that the government should encourage public transportation and asked for support for production of hybrid buses. "The government must bring down duty on lithium ion batteries," he said. At present, duty on lithium ion batteries, that powers the drive system of a vehicle, is 18 per cent. According to Seshasayee, compared to conventional bus, powered by IC engine, HYBUS offers significant fuel savings of 20-30 per cent. These buses will be used during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 6, 2010.
Refineries obstruct Euro III rollout: Plans of automobile manufacturers to sell Euro-III compliant vehicles from April 1 in the entire country may hit a road block as local refineries are not yet ready to sell the higher quality auto fuel in Kerala, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir and the entire Northeast, officials close to development said. India is set to phase out Euro-III vehicles from 13 major cities and Euro-II vehicles from rest of the country barring four regions from April 1, 2010. These would give way for Euro-IV and Euro III compliant vehicles, respectively. The higher grade fuels have lower emission levels of sulphur and benzene, key pollutant from fuel burned by automobiles. “Refineries in four regions are not ready to serve higher grade of auto fuel from the appointed date (April 1, 2010). Petroleum ministry has called for a meeting of public sector-refiners to review the situation,” an oil ministry official said requesting anonymity. “Huge investments are required for upgrading existing refineries. IOC, BPCL and HPCL have no incentive in upgrading refineries as there is no price difference between low grade and high grade fuels in the retail market, he said.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 8, 2010.
Toyota Prius leads charge of green brigade: The third day of the Auto Expo saw global companies displaying their greener side, led by global car market leader Toyota, which launched its international bestseller Prius hybrid with a price tag of Rs 26.55 lakh. Loaded with the Toyota Hybrid System II with three driving modes— power, eco and electric—Prius is the second hybrid car to be launched in India after the ill-fated Honda Civic Hybrid that was withdrawn due to lacklustre demand. The rollout of the Prius shows the optimism among carmakers about the Indian market’s appetite for green cars that are much more expensive than those run on petroleum fuels. Japanese companies Honda and Toyota took a long time to introduce their hybrid cars in India because on account of prohibitive duties that makes such cars very expensive. These cars will be imported from Japan.
Source: The Economic Times, New Delhi, January 8, 2010.
Solar car designed by students popular at Auto Expo: Once you finish feasting your eyes on the line of technologically-advanced luxury cars by major car manufacturers on display at the 10th Auto Expo, you might want to turn your attention to a non-polluting version, offered by a resourceful group of students. Tucked between a row of stalls is the solar-powered car ‘Advay II’, designed by a team of 16 engineering students from the Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology, Delhi University. Built over a year, this car’s yellow body does not bear resemblance to any current car model in production. “We call this an aerofoil design, which offers minimum resistance to air, making the car aerodynamic and faster. It is a common design followed by many prototype solar cars,” said Nikhil Gupta, a third-year student of Instrumentation and Control and team leader. Last year, Gupta was part of another team of engineering students from his college that designed an earlier variant of this car, ‘Advay I’, which participated in the South-African Solar Challenge-2008, and came third.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, January 8, 2010.
Green is the theme at the New Delhi auto expo: With concern over vehicular emissions rising, auto majors are fast shifting their focus towards greener electric and hybrid vehicles, besides providing customers the option of owning a car run by cheaper and low-emission fuels such as CNG and LPG. Signs of things to come are clearly visible at the 10th Auto Expo where almost every carmaker has showcased the future green offerings. Be it the mass-market players — Maruti, Hyundai, Tata Motors — or the foreign auto major — General Motors, Toyota Honda — all are betting big on green cars, not only for India but also for the overseas market. At the expo, Toyota has launched the latest version of world’s largest selling hybrid car, Prius, in the Indian market, besides introducing Altis CNG and Innova CNG, besides showcasing Camry hybrid.
Source: The Hindu, New Delhi, January 9, 2010.
Oil cos misled govt on Euro-III fuels, secy wants heads to roll: State-run oil marketing companies led the government up the garden path on the issue of green fuels by telling the oil ministry till the very end 2009 that they were ready to meet the April 1, 2010, deadline for introducing Euro-III petrol and diesel throughout the country -- except 13 major cities that graduate to Euro-IV. Feeling let down, petroleum secretary R S Pandey is asking for heads of those responsible for delay in introduction of Euro-III fuels. "Investigate the reasons for delay in completing fuel quality upgradation projects or logistics and fix responsibility/take suitable administrative action wherever necessary,'' he has told company heads in a letter. In that letter, Pandey says the panel of marketing chiefs of these companies, set up to monitor the introduction of Euro-IV and Euro-III fuels, told the ministry as late as July 2009 they were ready. It now comes to light they can only supply cleaner fuels in the 13 cities designated to graduate to Euro-IV on April 1 but will be unable to introduce Euro-III fuels all over the country at one go as was committed to the Supreme Court.
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, January 16, 2010.
CNG must in NCR towns: Min: Anticipating the serious implications of hazardous smoke emanating from consistent increase in the number of motor vehicles, the Haryana government has decided to make the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) necessary in all towns of Haryana falling in the national capital region (NCR). The order was passed in the meeting of officers from the environment department and Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) held on Monday. Haryana environment minister Ajay Singh also asked the officials to deposit the detailed action report on the disposal of bio-medical waste, stone crushers and sewage treatment plants. Citing Delhi's example, he said, "So far as the NCR is concerned, we do not want to face the situation that Delhi saw at one time.. We already have CNG pumps in Faridabad and Gurgaon. Now, we would have pumps in all the towns across NCR. We have already informed the chief minister and departments have been told to come with a time-bound action programme so that this decision is implemented well in time.''
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, November 17, 2009.
Fiat India to roll out CNG-run car next year: Fiat India plans to launch its first compressed natural gas (CNG)-run car for the domestic market in the April-June quarter of 2010, a top company official said here Tuesday. "We are working on a few CNG models. The first one will be rolled out in the second quarter next year," the company's president and chief executive Rajeev Kapoor said at a press meet. However, Kapoor declined to divulge any details on the models under consideration. "CNG is ultimately going to be a fuel for most commercial applications," he said, explaining the rationale behind the move, adding: "The technology is available with Fiat." Among other plans, he said the company was also working on an India-specific small car. "The car will be launched in 2011."
Source: The Economic Times, Kolkata, November 17, 2009.
Navi Mumbai to get 8 new CNG, LPG fuel stations: After a year or so, people in and around Navi Mumbai may not have to go to Mumbai or Thane to fill CNG or LPG in their vehicles if the City and Industrial Development Corporation's (Cidco) plan to help set up eight new CNG, LPG and other fuel (petrol and diesel) stations in the city is any indication. In a step to strengthen infrastructure within Navi Mumbai, Cidco on Wednesday threw open eight prime plots in the city's prominent residential nodes namely -Airoli, Ghansoli, Vashi, Sanpada, Belapur, Kharghar and Kalamboli-for auction at a base price ranging between Rs 9,000 a sq-m and Rs 31,320 sq-m. Of these eight plots, two are in Kharghar and one each in the remaining nodes. The area of the plot offered for these fuel stations ranges from 599 to 1,658 sq-m. This is going to be the third major auction by CIDCO after the recession. Cidco spokesman Mohan Ninave and its marketing manager R G More expect a record number of buyers and amazingly high rates as they say these stations were the need of the city and that the realty market was also improving after a long haul of recession.
Source: The Times of India, Mumbai, November 19, 2009.
MTC plans to try out biofuel: Taking a leaf out of Delhi’s book, the Tamil Nadu Transport Department (TNTD) has decided to go in for an eco-friendly transport fuel system. The only difference: TNTD intends to use biofuel instead of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) used in Delhi. The project to develop an affordable biofuel has been undertaken by the Institute for Road Transport Technology, Erode, which is run by the TNTD along with Anna University. An MTC bus will soon be fitted with a modified engine for the test run with biofuel. The research has been funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Delhi. “Biofuel is based on the derivates of vegetable oil. It not only reduces pollution, but also enhances vehicle performance. Biofuel can drastically reduce emissions of noxious gases, such as nitrous oxide,” said Krishnamurthy, joint director, Institute of Road Transport. Two species of plants, Pongamia and Jatropha, were used to develop the biofuel. If the project is implemented on a large scale, it would require mass cultivation of these crops.
Source: Express Buzz, Chennai, November 18, 2009.
Biofuel role limited in India: Ramesh: Biofuels have a limited role in India due to land limitation and food security issues, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, a view which differs from the official line pushing for a 20 per cent blend of such fuel in gasoline and diesel by 2017. Pitching for hybrids and CNG-run vehicles, Ramesh said "biofuel does not have a relevance role in Indian context in view of land limitation and food security." He was speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day 4th Environment Friendly Vehicles' conference. In October 2007, under pressure from the world to cut emissions of the greenhouse gasses produced by fossil fuel combustion, the Government had mandated that all diesel should contain 5 per cent biofuel by volume. Biofuels are produced from crops and burn cleaner than fossil fuels. Biodiesels, a subset of biofuels, are produced from vegetable or animal oil and there is a view that biofuel target is a reason for food prices shooting up lately. Ramesh said India could not follow Brazil which is a world leader in the use of ethanol as transportation fuel.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi, November 23, 2009.
Biofuel policy gets govt approval: The national biofuel policy, aimed at facilitating development of indigenous biomass feedstock for production of biofuels, has been cleared by the Cabinet. The draft of the policy was prepared by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), the coordinating ministry for biofuel development, last year. Setting up of a National Biofuel Coordination Committee to provide policy guidance has also been approved. It is to be headed by the prime minister. A Biofuel Steering Committee chaired by the cabinet secretary will also be set up to oversee the implementation of the policy. “The Indian approach to biofuels is based solely on non-food feedstock to be raised on degraded or waste lands that are not suitable for agriculture, thus avoiding a possible conflict of fuel versus food security,” a statement issued by MNRE read. Promotion of biofuels could meet India’s energy needs in an environmentally-sustainable manner, while reducing its import dependence on fossil fuels.
IOC wants 50,000 acres for biofuel cultivation in UP: New government policy on biofuels may consider financial incentives. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the country’s biggest oil marketing company, is looking to acquire 50,000 hectares of wasteland in Uttar Pradesh for plantation of non-edible oilseeds, such as jatropha and karanjia, that are used for biodiesel production. “We are in talks with the state government to acquire wasteland in the Lalitpur area near Jhansi. Plantation on this land will be done partly by IOC and partly through contract farming,” said B M Bansal, director (business development) at IOC. The company has already acquired 30,000 hectares in Chhattisgarh and another 2,000 hectares in Madhya Pradesh. “We have planted 1,000 hectares so far and aim to plant 10,000 hectares this year. Seeds from the plantations will start coming after three to four years,” he added. IOC has also entered into an MoU with Indian Railways for plantation of jatropha on railway land.
Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, January 5, 2010.