New Delhi | 12 July 2018
PAIRVI and BCPH called upon different organizations and networks working on energy policy, energy finance and other energy related issues to participate in a regional consultative meeting held on 12th July, 2017 at IIC, Delhi. The objective was to discuss the various points in the draft NEP and evolve a collective response of the participating organizations on the key issues of draft NEP. The NITI Aayog had recently put the draft National Energy Policy on public domain and invited comments.
The participants in the meeting were –
Shri Vijay Pratap - South Asian Dialogue on Ecological Democracy (SADED), who also chaired the first session, Shri Soumya Dutta – Beyond Copenhagen, Shri Nandikesh Shivalingam – Green Peace, Shri Aditya Ramji – Centre for Technology & Policy, IIT Madras, Shri Mohit Bhatia – Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN), Shri Rajendra Ravi – National Alliance of People’s Movement and urban issues specialist, Vimal bhai – Matu Jan Sangathan & NAPM, Shri Kunal Sharma – Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, Dr R Sreedhar – Environics Trust and Mines, Minerals & People, Shri Sushant – MM&P, Shri Mahesh Pandya– Paryavaran Mitra, Gujarat, Shri Sanat Chakrabarty – independent journalist & researcher based in Meghalaya, Amit Kumar – NAPM, Ms. - Indian Network for Ethics and Climate Change (INECC), Shri Dinvandhu Vats – Public Advocacy Initiative for Rights & Values in India (PAIRVI), Ms.Ravina Dhonchak – PAIRVI and Ms Mairaj Fatima – PAIRVI.
Several organizations and individuals who were interested in this, including some who are actively working in this policy field, could not physically participate due to the very short time available. Some inputs on the draft NEP were sent for discussion, by Shri Shankar Sharma, independent power policy analyst and PRAYAS Energy Group. Very short written comments were also received from Dr Babu Rao Kalapala and INECC.
Soumya Dutta, BCPH, informed the participants about the comments/suggestions received from Shankar Sharma and PRAYAS, and read out a few key points highlighted by them. He also presented some salient points like the demand projections to 2040 do not seem based on real trajectory on Indian economy, the present electricity scene (and the December 2016 CEA report) in India where we are electricity surplus for the 3rd year running and large nos of power plants are running at low capacities for lack of demand – with a large new capacity in the pipeline, the massive increase in projected hydrocarbon import dependence, ambitious scenario for 2040 seems conservative on energy efficiency front as it do not seem to have factored in other commitments like the NDC submitted to PARIS Climate Agreement, non-recognization of the fact that just bringing energy in the market place do not serve the universal access objective etc. Also –only economic cost is considered but not environmental cost. Cost Benefit Analysis should be done to analyze the social and environmental costs (externalities) of large energy projects. The draft talks about 45-53% reduction in emissions while the ambitious scenario shows a much smaller reduction over BAU.
Nandikesh.S, Greenpeace, pointed out even when there are cleaner sources of energy the policy focuses mainly on coal, hydro and gas. There is no welfare component in the draft. Its bailout for gas (a costly energy source) and nuclear power (a dangerous and costly source) shows that it is a completely market driven policy, which is a negative shift from earlier policies.
Vijay Pratap, SADED/BCPH, raised a question about the energy consumed during production of agricultural inputs being included in computed energy demand of agriculture sector. He mentioned Rajendra Ravi’s point that human energy is not included in energy policy. It should also include energy scenario of minimal energy consuming sections of population.Other cross-cutting issues like how minimal energy based population of adivasis suffer, and those areas of Western Ghats and Himalayas which suffer due to energy projects should also find a place in this draft.
Kunal Sharma, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, pointed out how the growth rate is deviated from the IESS (India Energy Security Scenario). He proposed to carry out a sensitivity analysis of energy demand by varying GDP projection to see the correlation between GDP growth rate and energy demand.
Sanat Chakraborty, Independent journalist & Researcher, Shillong objected to the projected increase in hydro power projects in North-Eastern states which are destroying natural resources.The energy demand of these states is very low and still their natural resources are at depleted rapidly due to these hydro-energy projects to fulfil the needs of elite section.
Mohit Bhatia, Clean Energy Access Network, pointed out that transport and industry seem to be the most benefitted sectors in the NEP according to the ambitious scenario which aims at increasing transport electrification by 3 times. Microgrids can play a major role for those areas which are not connected to girds but only a residual role is given to them. Decentralization of energy production should be given higher priority.
Rajendra Ravi, IDS/NAPM, found energy supply scenario as vague. He also emphasized on decentralization of electricity production, while emphasising on the large role in Indian society – of human energy in both rural and urban contexts. He observed that available govt data (CENSUS) on large percentage of cycling and walking in total commutes were not taken into consideration while formulating the draft NEP.
VimalBhai, Matu Jan Sangathan/NAPM, suggested for comparison between Himalayan NITI and Energy draft. Impact of hydropower sector on Himalayan Ecology should be carefully considered. He also highlighted the disruption in local energy availability, including submerged forests and farmlands - due to these large projects.
Mahesh Pandya, Paryavaran Mitra, suggested that much more comprehensive environmental impact assessment should be done, also for the migration caused by solar and wind energy projects, which are wrongly assumed to be having zero social and environmental impacts.
Amit Kumar, NAPM, said that installed capacities policies for solar park are not rational in terms of land acquisition and are likely used for land grabs. Requirements for environmental clearance are vaguely defined. He objected to the government funding of private institutional R&D to build new technology institutions, rather than building up public sector R&D capacities, which will better suit a society like India.
R. Sreedhar, Environics Trust, said that policy is oblivious of commitments made in Paris Climate Agreement. There is lack of foundational structure for renewable energy. National Clean Energy Fund – generated mainly out of the coal cess, is now being targeted to support nuclear power as clean energy, which is wrong and objectionable.Open acreage licensing policyfor open exploration and mining might lead to some serious natural resource degradation and privatization, as it already happened in KG basin.
The meeting decided that looking at the critical importance of energy policy and its possible impacts on society, a collective effort will be made to take this to a larger society by organizing public consultations in different regions - irrespective of the deadline extension by NITI Aayog, which was requested by several groups. It was also decided to form small working groups with different tasks, which will work in collaboration of the interested organizations. The groups and their members are:
1. People’s Perspective: Soumya Dutta from BCPH and R.Sreedhar from MM&P and a representative from NAPM to facilitate, with Shankar Sharma, PRAYAS, Ajay Jha (TBC as they were not present) and Sanat Chakrobarty as other initial members to take it forward, till proper working groups are formed.
2. Energy Economics (Energy and Finance): Clean Energy Access Network, CFA -Rajesh, HimanshuDamle, Jai Sharda (TBC).
3. Energy & Employment: R.Sreedhar from Environics Trust (Facilitator) ++
4. Ecological Cost of Energy: Sagar Dhara, Mahesh Pandya ++
5. Hydropower: Himanshu Thakkar (SNDRP), Rajkumar Sinha, Shripad Dharmadhikary, Vimal Bhai +
6. Coal group: Nandikesh, ++
Finance aspects and government focus on decentralizing renewable energy instead of large cost intensive project