Call for massive drive to tap solar energy in State

The 7th Kerala Environment Congress, which concluded here on Saturday, adopted a resolution urging the government to exploit alternative methods of hydroelectric power generation like small hydel, hydrokinetic and hydel with pumped storage.

The resolution moved at the valedictory session of the congress said substitute options had become necessary because large hydel projects were beset with problems. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) could implement substitute small-scale projects in several tributaries of rivers with minimum environmental impact, it proposed.

The resolution highlighted the need for Kerala to take up waste-to-energy projects as a decentralised energy source that could also address environmental sanitation problems. It recommended a technology initiative in this area.

Moving the resolution, Babu Ambatt, Executive Director, Centre for Environment and Development (CED), said the time had come for Kerala to embark on a massive drive to tap solar energy utilising the latest technology in the field.

The resolution emphasised the need to promote green building technologies and take up awareness programmes for energy conservation involving the KSEB, Energy Management Centre and the Agency for Non-Conventional Energy and Rural Technology (Anert). It called for steps to sensitise the younger generation to the need for better energy conservation.

Addressing the valedictory function, Mayor K. Chandrika said homestead-level garbage treatment and terrace cultivation could be promoted as a step towards protecting the environment.

“The menace of plastic has compounded the problem of garbage disposal. Solid waste management and energy conservation should start from the household level. An extensive awareness campaign could be launched at the grassroots level to achieve the objective,” she said.

The Mayor said the proposal to shut down the operations of the garbage treatment plant at Vilappilsala was not feasible. The Corporation, she added, was working on a plan to address the pollution issues raised by the local people.

P.V. Karunakaran, Programme Director, CED, also spoke.

Young scientist award

The Young Scientist award for the best presentation at congress was awarded to Priyanka Murthy for her work on energy, nutrients and pollutant recovery from municipal landfill leachate by sequential anaerobic and algal pond treatment.

Referendum sought

Earlier, at an open forum conducted as part of the congress, M.P. Parameswaran, nuclear scientist and founder-leader of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, said it was time to change the trajectory of development to avoid an eco-environment catastrophe. “Development should be reoriented from the growth and GDP-based approach to a human and need-based approach.”

He said only recycling could ensure infinite sustainability of natural resources.

Mr. Parameswaran said Kerala had the potential to generate up to 30,000 MW of renewable energy using solar panels mounted atop roof tops and reservoirs. “With the right kind of subsidy from the Centre and the State government, it is possible to meet 70 to 80 per cent of the State's demand from solar power alone,” he said.

He proposed a referendum on all new hydel projects after a year-long discussion and a major programme to convert inefficient firewood stoves to high-efficiency, low-emission stoves.

Mr. Parameswaran also mooted the idea of establishing Green Technology Centres in all villages.

A.S.K. Nair, scientist, CESS; and Dhanada Kanta Misra, chairman, Human Development Foundation, Orissa, also spoke.