- K S Venkatagiri, Deputy Executive Director, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)
Large organisations have started encouraging green initiatives in their businesses, but it is not the case with SMEs. The difference in priorities and lack of a clear understanding as well an inability to reach out to suitable service providers are some of the hurdles SMEs are facing.
Where do we stand in terms of greenhouse emissions as per global standards?
Development and modernisation in India has reduced the focus on sustainability. India's greenhouse gas emission per capita was around 1.5 per cent in 2010 as against 20 per cent in US and 25 per cent in Switzerland. It has now moved up to a challenging stage. We now have cope up with green initiatives for a healthy living. The CII and the Government of India have started taking steps to create awareness. Certain sectors like the cement industry have already contributed immensely towards green society, whereas many others are still struggling. The Indian cement industry is the most efficient in the world with a production capacity of 300 mtpa (million tonnes per annum), and expects to reach 700 mtpa by 2035-40. The ITC company is the best example with a net zero carbon footprint.
The auto sector is a contributor to pollution - your comment?
The auto industry is very old in India. This industry has contributed largely towards environmental issues. Not only in India, but the world over. Green vehicles are not very popular yet. They are in need of more advanced technologies that are easy to use; are cost effective and fuel-efficient. There is also lack of awareness on the use of green vehicles. Efforts are being made to introduce fuel-efficient vehicles that can run on solar power and batteries. We have introduced e-rickshaws, e-bikes, e-cars, etc., in the Indian market, though not in full swing.
What is your view on the availability of charging stations?
The charging stations should be developed in India, in order to encourage the use of electric vehicles. So, we expect the Indian government to take efforts in creating awareness and also develop infrastructure for electric vehicles. The other limitations are speed, ease of use, cost, quality, etc., which stops the buyer from purchasing green vehicles. But at the manufacturing end, lot of effort is being made to ensure sustainability and to reduce product costs.
Why are SMEs struggling for sustainability?
The registration process in India for green projects is simple as compared the process in other parts of the world. We have however not been successful in enforcing the necessary standards. Awareness in SMEs is lacking towards the introduction of green features due to the non-availability of clear (or suitable) service providers. Also, the priorities of SMEs are different when compared to those of the large organisations.
What is your view on budget 2014?
Budget 2014 has waved a positive sign for cleaner environment. The increase of Rs 50 (Energy Cess per tonne) to Rs 100 for clean energy will generate significant amount. The allocation of fund for cleaning Ganga River and many such projects will lead towards a cleaner and healthier environment. So, there are long terms plans, and we are now waiting for a positive outlook.
What measures will boost green initiatives in India?
Creating awareness is the major step, which should not be limited to only the industrial segment but even individuals. Young IT professionals should be encouraged to introduce innovative technologies. Also, the government must impose a stiffer penalty for those who do not encourage green features. The regulations and policy should be simplified.
- Eliza Waghmare