Chandigarh has been awarded the best solar city for the year 2015. To know more about the concept of Solar City DailyPost CORRESPONDENT DIVYANSH ASHU, interviewed Santosh Kumar, director of CREST and also head of the department of Wildlife, Science and Technology and Forest departments. He not only explained Chandigarh as a solar city but also gave insights in the current issues of other departments he is heading.
Q. Tell us about Chandigarh as a solar city?
A. Solar city is a city which fulfills its energy requirement by renewable sources. Chandigarh has only one outlet of renewable source and that is solar energy. Wind energy, Hydro energy and other renewable sources cannot be harnessed in the city. Chandigarh in 2012 formed a master plan regarding to increase Solar energy capacity. A target of 10 megawatt was set up to be achieved in 10 years.
Q. How much power is being generated in city by Solar energy?
A. We have installed power of five megawatt in the city and the target has been increased seeing the growth in process. Government of India has increased the target of solar energy by 60 per cent so has the UT administration. The target has been revised to 50 megawatt for the city for the year 2022. 7.7 megawatt has been installed in the government sector owned buildings and in private buildings around 1.6 megawatt has been set up. In total infrastructure generating more than 9 megawatt has been set up in the city. The growth is tremendous and by 2022 we are expecting to accomplish the target.
Q. Who is CREST targeting to increase the participation from private sector and common people?
A. We have shown people that solar city can be a reality by installing projects at government buildings but a true solar city can only be achieved when every man in the city will have solar panel at his or her roof top. We have taken some effective steps to achieve this. First of all 30 per cent subsidy is being provided by Government of India on the 48 agencies have been impanelled from where people can purchase the material required on subsidised rates. We also launched a website www.solarchandigarh.com from where any kind of clearance whether from Electricity Department on any other department can be taken thus making business easy. Also, the tariff announced is the best in the country.
Q. Can you tell more about the tariff rates?
A. If someone installs a solar project at his roof top, then he can sell the produced energy at Rs 9.19 whereas the power rate in the city is Rs 5.7. This means that he can sell the power produced at double the rate.
Q. What are the problems you face during installing a project?
A. In starting there was mis-communication with the Electricity Department but now that has been resolved and the work is done with ease.
Q. What role is the city administration and Government of India playing?
A. Government of India has approved subsidy for the private plants up to 10 megawatt in advance and also no money will be taken for one megawatt.
Q. Chandigarh has a lot of green cover thus it effects the setting of plants.
A. Yes, sometimes it happens. But we have to take care of both Green Cover and Solar projects. If the shade comes on the project which happens in the projects installed at schools and colleges then pruning takes place at regular time.
Q. What are the main projects which are coming up?
A. Patiyala ki rao is one. We are planning to set up an infrastructure for generating 20 megawatt. But it will take time and will be a reality only after two years. Projects of 200 kilowatt and 300 kilowatt will be set up at ISBT Sector 17 and Sector 43 respectively. Municipal Commission’s’ water works will powered by 7 megawatt project.
Q. What is being done to make the city eco-friendly?
A. The green cover in the city is more than 45 per cent. Also to sensitise citizens wild life trekking at Sukhna Wild life reserve on Saturday has been started. Then VAT on battery-operated auto-rickshaw has been removed. Also registration cost for them is being removed.
Q. Even pollution is rising slowly in the city?
A. The pollution is not going to decrease. As the population is increasing so are the industries and vehicles. Carbon dioxide and Nitrogen dioxide are in limit and only the particulate matter that is unchecked. It is because of the rise in vehicle density. To control this people has to change their habits. They have to switch towards public transport and I am hopeful that with introduction of metros we will see this change.
Q. Does the industry sub-urban particular Mohali and Panchkula have effect on pollution level in the city?
A. Yes, they have effect on the pollution level in the city, industrial project in Mohali and Panchkula have effect and also in October the left out of paddy crops are burnt. It increases the particulate level not just in Punjab but in the entire north region. Particulate matter is a big issue and cannot be controlled by us.
Q. Does the government have any plan to have a single department in the tricity for looking upon the pollution since it is connected?
A. No, such a plan is not there. Home Ministry and Ministry of Urban Development had formed an inter-state council which had representatives from three states. The council would be responsible for future development of the area and will look after each and every department. But there is no such council for environmental issues.
Q Will the rise in population effect the forest cover in the city?
A. I don’t think that it is going to have any effect on the forest cover. The administration is against urbanisation in the forest area. No construction will be allowed in the protected areas of the city.
Q. What about the areas which are under the Sectors and where large green cover has taken place?
A. Chandigarh is a planned city and people will be allowed to leave in the areas where the green cover is least effected. If the areas are under Municipal Cooperation then yes the woods will have to face the axe. But if the population will rise then of course it will take toll on the environment.
Q How are you uplifting the wild-file tourism in the city?
A. We have come up with a calendar in which different kind of programme in the wild life sanctuary are done every Sunday. Also the trekking in the sanctuary takes place on Sunday. Then important people are invited during these days to see the importance of wild life. Cycling has also been started behind the Sukhana Lake and we have a big celebration on the wildlife week.
Q. Talking about waste disposal in the city, what role is the science and technology department playing?
A. Science and Technology Department does not have a role in it but yes the Municipal Corporation is very conscious about the issue. Jaypee waste treatment plant was not taking the organic material thus they have cancelled the contract with them and now they have a
plan to setup a plant which will
not only treat the waste but also convert it into energy. The plant will take every kind of waste material. I hope this will soon come up and will be exemplary in the country.
Q. Any message to the citizens?
A. People of Chandigarh have always been conscious about their surroundings. They have played a big role in conserving the green cover and environment of
the city. I hope as they have embraced the environmental issues they will also join the process of making the city a solar city. I
request them to come up and install at least one solar project at their houses. This will not only make them proud but the whole city as it will decrease the pollution levels drastically.
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