SC- Invite Suggestions from Public & Experts –Controlling Air Pollution in NCR
For few months every year the Air over NCR/North India is oppressively polluted. Over the last few months, the Supreme Court has been goading (mercifully) government agencies to quicken their efforts to ‘clear the air’. Pollution of air, water and earth is a world-wide phenomenon, affecting most of the Cities. Since the “powerful’ reside in cities it is receiving attention with due urgency.
A Dot: These pollutions are also implicated in “Climate Change’ which has ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ causes. Only man-made causes are addressable by humanity.
A Manager’s Ruminations: Humanity ‘flowed’ with ‘careless exuberance’ to enjoy the newer and shinier goodies being thrown up by the techno-economic developments, mainly over the last 60 odd, post-war years. Humanity just kicked the ‘Wastes’ that are concomitant with economic activity, ‘out of sight’ avoiding the ‘costs and efforts’: The ‘choke’ of this ‘avoidance’ is has now ‘here’.
A Random Thought: The social and political systems recognized the developments thru many ‘swacchta abhiyan’ (JNNURM etc) which were half-hearted in conception and implemented sans adequate resources and sustained efforts.
And: The humanity is now required to make “choices’ to address the concerns at an humongous scale. Fortunately, the techno-economic ‘tools’, robust social and political structures are available to design “fit for purpose’ systems, processes and incentive structures: And skills and resources to implement with dedication over the next decade or so.
A Dot: Two of the main components of economy Agriculture and Industry+ Transport that account for ~45% of Indian GDP are implicated: These sectors are main users of ‘energies’- physical and generated.
A Few Positives: The importance of Agriculture and Industry is waning as proportion of GDP, but are foundational to human existence. *Many non-polluting power-generating systems (Solar, wind etc) are now becoming commercially viable and the scale to dent overall pollutions is quite near: many pundits see 2030 as the hump. *It could coincide with another positive: the world populations are stabilizing and even reducing in many areas which in turn may reduce pollutions as the pressure on earth’ resources reduces.*Battery costs having halved over last 7 years non-polluting EVs will dominate the cars markets.
However: The volumes of car on the roads will continue to cause many complex socio-economic problems. This will need deep “out of the box’ thinking and cooperation from many social and political structures to plan and coordinate implementation to coincide with 2030 hump above.
An Irony: Let’s deep dive into a small subset of “Transport” of persons in our cities. Thru most of history we could travel at max speed of 15 Kmph in our horse carriages. We are now back to crawling in our big cities at that speed sitting in our Mercs, Beemers and Marutis that are acquired on the boasts of ‘100kmph + speeds in 6 seconds’.
And: In Delhi of 2003, on completion of “75 flyovers’ one could reach a destination in 40 mins against 1 hr 15 mins earlier. Since then we have invested lakhs of crores of public funds to furiously widen roads, build clover-flyovers and the “world’s largest metro network”, but have failed to stay a step ahead of the ‘choke’ effect of 40,000+ cars added to Delhi roads. These cars cost ₹2,500 Cr (@ ~ ₹6.5 lakh) per month in Household and public savings ~₹ 30,000 Crores per years. And yet, think of an ambulance struggling to come and ferry your mother, who must reach an emergency room within an hour! Our top 10 cities are no exception.
And Biggest Irony of All: Private Cars that are 85%+ of the fleet, ‘sit’ in the parking spaces for 90%+ of the time in a day (24 hrs). Behaviorally, “personal cars” are an asset class akin to Gold that sits in lockers mostly. But cars depreciate once out of the showroom; gold may and does appreciate. The Personal Cars are therefore hardly an efficient tool, nor a good asset.
Factory Reset#1: Raise the GST on personal use cars @56% (against 28% now)-a sin tax.
Factory Reset#1 (1): In the top 10 most populous cities (municipal limits) in India, allow one car per household. The Household may buy its second car @200% and the third on @400% GST. (No ban, please).
Factory Reset#1 (2): Extend this law to cities lower down over the next 5 years to cover 300 cities with population of 100K+, in fact all over India. We have the tech, Aadhar, PAN, Property and Household data to enforce this. The Registration cards and number plates also to indicate this.
Factory Reset#2: Reduce the GST rate on cars purchased for operating a Taxi Service to 12%-All fuels.
Reset #2 (1): The GST rates on Taxis can be increased with the rising number of EVs, Fuel Cell cars to say 15% and 18% to balance and achieve revenue neutrality and/or normative revenue growth. ---------------_An Indian Whisper: Prof Tony Seba of Stanford computed in 2013-15 that by 2030 world will ride on EVs and the fossil fuel industry will die.
Factory Reset # 3: Use the funds generated from 56% GST to subsidise manufacturers of EV, Hydrogen and other clean fuel cars.
Effect on Air Pollution: EVs etc achieve a thermal efficiency of 85% as opposed to ~30%+ on petrol/Diesel powered cars. The Power generating station will burn less fossil/other fuel to produce electricity. *The Logistic chain of fuel supply to neighborhood gas stations is not required any more. *Above all the Cars as Taxis will clock 60%+ up time.
Effects on Air Pollution – Transformation of Economy: The Car Industry is currently being disrupted by EV Tech. The ‘regulatory’ disruption proposed above will bring down the volume of cars substantially that will have knock-down effect on all adjacents – tyres tubes, steel and metals, plastics, leather seating, casting & forging etc.Drop in economic activity will bring down pollutions caused by these industries.
And: The need for additional roads and metro network and parking spaces etc will reduce drastically with a knock down effects on the activity in construction sectors, Cement production and other related industries and services.
Factory Reset #4 : Divert the economic ‘energies’ to connect all habitations with population of 250+ by all- weather dual carriage roads to the Taluka HQ and District HQ (expand the PMGSY launched by Atal ji in 2000). With 5 years of sustained efforts we can add ~3 Lakh Km to the existing 6 Lakh Km network to ensure FULL connectivity.
Factory Reset# 4 (1): Build micro-infrastructure around these small habitations, drainage, garbage handling systems, internal roads (main street plus 2, min), water supply, fair grounds, schools and clinics. Micro-Infrastucture of our cities needs to be upgraded ~50% of large city population live in slums. ----------------_An Indian Whisper: The expression of creative and entrepreneurial energies of about 80% of our population need to be facilitated with above resets, with enormous benefits to economy and to people – the ‘sovereign’ of our democracy.
Factory Reset #4 (2): As the local economies gain strength many people will stay back reducing the pressure on cities and town infrastructure-reduces ‘pollution in cities’.
A Dot: In early years the cities allowed industries outside the city limits. Unplanned expansion of cities brought these areas within city limits.
Factory Reset#5: Create buffer zones of 1 km to 5 km between industrial areas and human habitations and ring-fence the Industrial areas with orchards and other plantations. -----------_An Indian Whisper: We will avoid Bhopal Tragedy (1984), mayhem by LG Factory leaks in Vizag (2020) and shutdown of a precious industrial resource-the Copper smelter in Tuticorin (2018).
A Dot: Today 82% of Indian workforce do not have appointment letter.
Factory Reset#5 (1) : By law, all units employing 5 or more (including the promoter) must issue appointment letters – by Aadhar and PAN of persons working in the outfit. (Tailoring shops, dhabas and salons etc). ----------_An Indian Whisper: Accords ‘dignity’ of recognition to the worker that s/he deserves as an Indian citizen: A ‘dignity’ that is the basis of socially responsible behavior.
A Dot: Min wages vary between ₹650 in Kerala to ₹250 per day in UP/Bihar.
Factory Reset#5 (2): Skill based minimum wages are de-humanizing: set min wages on the basis of consumption needs of an average household + 30%, the national savings rate; by empowered District Governing Council; comprising Admin +MP +MLAs + Sarpanches. ----------------_An Indian Whisper: Only on a full stomach will s/he have the mind-space to work on socially relevant issues.
A Thunk: These Resets will unleash the energies of nearly 2/3rd of Indian population that is in the ‘Working age”-15-59 yo ~ 900 Million Indians. The resulting rebalancing of economic systems and economic growth will defy computations.
A Dot: Agriculture is basic enterprise around which human civilizations developed. Most of the practitioners of this craft still face the original risks –weather, pests, markets and marauders: The Key being price received vs value delivered.
Factory Reset# 6 : Develop and establish ‘governance structures at the District and Taluka level to ensure that the producer receives 50% of the “Street Price” a housewife pays: On All Agri-Outputs- cereals, pulses, fruits and veggies, even sugarcane.
S/he must be paid within 3 days of delivery by to the buyer. -------------- An Indian Whisper: A detailed concept note is available.
Factory Reset# 6 (1): As the economy in the hinterlands muscles-up we can commence withdrawing market and agri-distorting subsidies, say within 3 years. Subsidies must never be for more than 50% of the cost of delivering a product or service. There is no free lunch.
A Few Dots: The rural economies include i) Farming (cereals & pulses, oilseeds, fibres, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, floriculture, spices, medicinal and aromatic plants and plantation crops. ii) Rearing of Livestock: value of output from the dairy, poultry, sheep and goats and other draft animals. iii) Wages and Salaries: farm and non-farm wage earnings, and salaries MNREGA work etc. iv) Non-farm Business: manufacturing, hotels & restaurants, construction, mining & quarrying, repairing, and other services.
A Thunk: The increasing funds flow thru better price realization will help bulking up, diversifying and strengthening the local economies across India. The spread of economic activity to lakhs of pockets all over India will have salutary effect on the pollutions in the cities, surely a durable one.
The Big Thunk: The above resets –“disruptive governance models’ are directed at ameliorating the social ‘injustices’ and dignifying the ‘common man” as citizens who will then act in a socially responsible manner reinforcing the non-polluting measures.
Gurgaon – 26th Dec 2021