Month: June 2019


Water Crisis: Chennai is India’s Cape Town With A Difference

Originally posted on Yahoo India

Featured Image: A man uses a hand-pump to fill up a container with drinking water as others wait in a queue on a street in Chennai, India, June 17, 2019. Picture taken June 17, 2019. REUTERS/ P. Ravikumar

The ongoing water crisis in Chennai is somewhat similar to what Cape Town went through from mid-2017 to 2018. But unlike the South African city which planned and handled the crisis professionally, Chennai’s administrators and the state government just let the tragedy hit the city.

Months ahead of the impending water crisis, Cape Town planned restricting water supply and usage at various levels leading to ‘Day Zero’ that indicated the start of Level 7 water restrictions where municipal water supplies were to be shut down completely and water rationed. Cape Town was the first major city in the world to potentially run out of water, and will not be the last.

Through these measures, Cape Town was able to curtail water usage and succeeded in drastically reducing its daily water usage by more than half, to around 500 million litres per day in March 2018. The major fall in water usage, combined with heavy rainfall in June 2018, caused dam levels to steadily increase, and the city managed to avoid the dreaded ‘Day Zero’.

But what did the authorities in Chennai do? Instead of planning, the government and authorities were in perpetual denial mode while conducting fanciful yagnas for rain. Tamil Nadu Rural and Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani was in denial mode, claiming there was no water shortage in Chennai, and the Chennai Metro Water authorities were only busy fire-fighting the problem.

Chennai and other major cities and towns in India should learn from Cape Town’s planning, especially when there is acute water shortage every summer due to erratic monsoon and groundwater depletion.

Unlike in Cape Town, Chennai’s water crisis was man-made.

Due to rapid urbanisation, lack of proper planning, corruption in issuing building permits and encroachments, the area of the water bodies in Chennai city and its suburbs shrunk from nearly 12.6 sq. km. in 1893 to an abysmal 3.2 sq. km now.

The erstwhile Madras had 60 large water bodies in the core of the city in the 1940s. In 2017, this number is just 28. These water bodies too may vanish soon to land sharks.

Water bodies started vanishing and shrinking rapidly after 1960 due to urbanisation. Lakes and temple tanks were the first targets. Instead of expanding the city’s boundaries, authorities gobbled up lakes in a hunger for money and criminal short-sightedness.

If this trend continues, Chennai could soon be heading towards not just water shortage, but a full-fledged ecological disaster.

The vanishing lakes have also led to massive depletion of groundwater levels as there is no means of recharging the water table.

And rapid loss of natural lakes has led to local flooding and increased saltwater intrusion. In fact, every incident of local flooding in the city can be traced to a vanished waterbody in the neighbourhood.

The massive 2015 Chennai floods can be seen as a move by nature to reclaim its lost water bodies. The floods were not just due to heavy rainfall- the mismanagement of lakes and negligence in protecting linking channels also played a major role. Old Chennai, rather Madras in the 1940s, had a chain of 16 tanks in Vyasarpadi alone that acted as control valves to prevent flooding.

There are various studies and recommendations on tackling water shortage and flooding. These include rejuvenating smaller ponds, demarcation of groundwater protection zones, construction of check dams across waterways and additional subsurface storage tanks.

But there should be a government to implement all this. The present government led by Edappadi Palaniswami is fighting only for survival, not water. The situation is so bad that IT companies have asked employees to work from home, and small hotels and lodges and even some private schools have shut down. ‘Water rage’ has become common on the streets of Chennai.

All the four major reservoirs that supply drinking water to Chennai have almost dried up and the city is now dependent on its three mega desalination plants.

The government has announced bringing water by train wagons from Jollarpettai in Vellore for the next six months. But that is not a sustainable solution.

Lakes have vanished not just in Chennai. The city’s neighbouring districts of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur were once known as ‘Yeri (lake) districts’ with over 6,000 lakes, ponds and reservoirs. These water bodies minimised run-off loss of rainwater and kept replenishing the groundwater table. Today, there are just 3,896 yeris or lakes.

Chennai also had three ‘rivers’ crisscrossing the city – Cooum, Buckingham Canal and Adyar. All the three are now wide, stinking gutters filled with filth and untreated sewage.

The Tamil Nadu government should stop all the yagnas for rain and, instead, plan for years ahead. 2019 has been a wakeup call for not just Chennai, but cities all over India.



Origin Renewables Private Limited Receives ‘Rooftop Project Developer of the Year’ Award

Mumbai, 21 May 2019: Origin Renewables Private Limited (ORPL), a leading rooftop and ground-mounted solar provider, has received the “Rooftop Project Developer of the Year” award from EQ International. ORPL secured the honour at the PV InvestTech + SuryaCon conference held at the JW Marriott Hotel in Mumbai on 21 May.

Speaking on the occasion, Balawant Joshi, Director, ORPL, said, “We are extremely excited to receive this recognition from EQ. As a fledgling company, such awards go a long way in encouraging us to provide economical solar solutions through innovation and engineering.”

ORPL is the only company in the Indian residential solar sector that does not avail of government funding schemes designed to boost solar adoption. While most providers rely on a CapEx model to finance their projects, ORPL operates on a RESCO business model. The company aims to provide solar power to residential complexes while minimizing costs for the consumer.

ORPL assumes the entire funding and execution risks, since it believes the Indian consumer is unaware of the inherent challenges associated with buying and operating such an engineering product. The company bears the equipment cost, as well as the ongoing maintenance and repair overheads, first-hand, with each participating household paying a service charge toward solar energy purchased. A residential rooftop solar instalment, based on the RESCO model, would allow consumers to access cheaper electricity through renewable, clean solar power.

ORPL implemented its first rooftop solar project, centred around this business model, at the Pinnacle Cooperative Housing Society in November 2017. Since then, the company has received approvals for several similar projects, which are soon to take off.

Manikkan Sangameswaran, Director, ORPL, said, “Individual financing for RESCO-driven residential sector solar projects is difficult, as there are few loan schemes available for the purpose. Credit, too, is not easily available for co-operative projects as they are deemed high risk. But ORPL has received the financial go-ahead to take up several new projects in the near future.”

ORPL is looking to provide rooftop solar solutions for residential as well as commercial and industrial undertakings. The company aims to become a prominent player in India’s nascent solar energy sector.

About ORPL: Origin Renewables Pvt Ltd was incorporated in 2015 with the aim of providing renewable energy solutions encompassing rooftop solar, ground-mounted MW solar farms, hybrid wind-solar systems, and the like to meet the requirements of corporate, residential and commercial users. ORPL is among the pioneers in the Indian solar industry, providing an OpEx-based (CapEx light) renewable solution under an Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) concept, wherein its vision is to optimize the renewable energy generation and maximize the financial returns on the investment at any given site.

About EQ Magazine: EQ International is geared toward providing insights into the renewable energy sector developments across the world. They conduct various award events and conferences across the country, including SuryaCon.

Good News Central

Bombay Stock Exchange Launches Exclusive Trading Platform for Green Bonds

Author: Saumy Prateek

Adani was the first to trade green bonds on the India International Exchange

India now has its own green bond trading platform. The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)’s international arm, India International Exchange (India INX), recently announced its exclusive green listing and trading platform called Global Securities Market (GSM). GSM Green will serve as a platform for fundraising and trading green, social, and sustainable bonds exclusively.

The green bond taxonomy followed by India INX is per International Capital Market Association’s (ICMA) Green Bond Principles and Climate Bonds Initiative, which provides a platform for global investors to invest.

The Green Bond Principles were established in 2014 by a consortium of investment banks: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, Daiwa, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Mizuho Securities, Morgan Stanley, Rabobank, and SEB. ICMA is monitoring and providing development guidelines for the Green Bond Principles.

The Climate Bonds Initiative provides green definitions that are sector specific, developed by scientists and industry experts. These fall into eight broad categories (energy, transport, water, buildings, land use, and marine resources, industry, waste and Information and communications technology (ICT)) under the taxonomy. Sector-specific standards are used for certification.

India INX is committed to facilitating fundraising for green commercial projects and promotes ESG standards through GSM Green Platform.

Adani was the first company to register its bonds on the platform and raise funds. India INX MD and CEO V. Balasubramaniam mentioned, “We welcome Adani Green’s $ 500 million issue. It is special to us as this is the first non-banking private sector issuer on India INX platform. Further, with a dedicated green platform, issuers, investors and traders will find it more convenient to list and trade green, social, and sustainable bonds. BSE has long been part of Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative, so it is only apt that at India INX we encourage more green funding which is in line with the Government of India’s initiative of sustainable development.”

Adani Green Energy Chief Financial Officer Ashish Garg said, “We are excited that a platform like Global Securities Market with a dedicated green segment is being offered now at India INX in India’s very own International Financial Services Center. This was a long pending gap and will encourage more green financing in the country.”

Mercom previously reported that Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL), the renewable energy arm of Adani Group, had said it was going to raise $500 million through green bonds. The proceeds will be utilized to repay its respective external commercial borrowing loans, and the balance of the net proceeds for capital expenditure, other project related liabilities or for on-lending to other subsidiaries of the company.

Previously, Tata Cleantech Capital Limited (TCCL) also raised ₹1,800 million (~$25.62 million) through green bonds from FMO, the Netherlands Development Finance Company. The funds will be utilized to grow Tata Cleantech’s renewable energy portfolio. The company mainly focuses on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and water management. This funding would also help FMO reach its long-term emission reduction targets.

Sustainable Clothing

The Lit Biwi’s Take On Sustainable Fashion

Writer: Suchie Sarkar

I’ve been noticing a lot of plastic clothing all over the place lately. Clear PVC shoes. Bags. Jackets. Hats. Not only do these guys make your toes hella sweaty, they also look weird since they turn yellow fast. Also, they’re non-biodegradable. Which means, once they go out of fashion and you toss your stuff away, they either collect dust at the back of your closet, doing nothing, or they add to toxic waste that’s already choking Momma Earth. Between consumerism that’s becoming a fast-spreading epidemic to fast fashion that brands like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 (and our bloggers with a major cult following) promote, we’re forgetting that we’re making our lives super hard. Soon, we won’t have clean air to even get by.

One way in which you can actually keep the earth from this literal choking is by maybe considering sustainable fashion. There are seven forms of this, according to Green Strategy:

Now, eco fashion happens to be an excellent way to minimize waste – fabric that comes from jute, or muga silk, or even banana stems and pineapple leaves, for example. So much waste is produced anyway when you use unsustainable materials like cotton which actually take up a lot of manual labor, chemicals and not to mention, pollution from factories. Now, banana stems and pineapple leaves produce fabric which you can transform into clothing and they look amazing. Could these someday compete with cotton? (Read about this fascinating article here.) Organic and clean fabrics that won’t harm anything or anybody? Yes, please.

If you’re in India, and you have a wedding coming up, why not – instead of wasting a crazy amount of money on a lehenga that you probably won’t wear again – opt for a rented one? Flyrobe has a ton of designer outfits you can rent, and customize as per your needs. You also pay literally only a fraction of what your outfit would cost you otherwise. They’ve got a lot of designers to pick from, including Sabyasachi.

The other thing you can do to actually minimize waste, like the chart said earlier, is to recycle your old clothing. For example, you’ve been handed down your sibling’s old sweater – you could DIY the heck out of it. It would be something new without actually being new, and you wouldn’t have to spend much to wear a new outfit to school. There’s a YouTuber that posts a lot of DIY videos. Her name is Orly Shani and she’s someone that’s inspired this post. If you’re someone that’s into crafting and DIY, take a look at her channel The DIY Designer. Not only does she look like a snack (a snack named Sandra Bullock), she’s also extra fun to watch.

What’s your take on fashion? Do you believe in sustainable fashion? Do you also have a vintage piece you’ve inherited from one of your parents that you’ve actually worn and loved to death?


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Real Talk

People are suing fossil fuel companies for contributing to global warming.

In 1998 tobacco companies in the USA were forced to stop advertising to youth, restrict product placement in media, and fund anti-smoking campaigns. They were also forced to pay over $200 billion over 25 years. The lawsuit was based on the idea that since they caused the health crisis, they should have to pay for it.

It looks like the same thing is going to happen to fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell. These climate change lawsuits are worth billions of dollars and could set powerful legal precedents.

“Big oil knew for decades that greenhouse gas pollution from their operations and their products were having a significant and detrimental impact on the earth’s climate. Instead of working to reduce that harm, these companies chose to conceal the dangers, undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engage in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products and ever-increasing revenues in their pockets.”

“But a complicating factor is that every tier of government has pursued policies that have encouraged the use of fossil fuels, from building highways to subsidizing airports to constructing greenhouse gas-emitting power plants. So if an oil and gas company can be held liable for carbon dioxide emissions, so too can governments, power companies, and automakers.”

Fossil fuel companies believe that these lawsuits are a waste of time and money and it would be more productive to directly mitigate emissions.


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