TODAY -

Save energy and save your skin

S Balakrishnan *



Even Maheshwar is powerless without Goddess Shakthi, it is said. No shakthi, no Shivam! Energy is central to progress, for moving forward. India’s energy consumption has almost doubled since 2000 and it is natural that further rapid growth is expected. It is estimated that the primary energy demand in India will increase to about 1250 – 1500 million TOE by 2030.

It has almost doubled within three years from about 441 Mtoe in 2000 to 775 Mtoe in 2013. [TOE is the amount of energy released by burning one tonne of crude oil. Mtoe /megatoe = one million toe and Gtoe/gigatoe = one billion toe].

While it is true that without energy there is no life, it is also true that energy production and its use pollute and damage our environment. A striking example is that of New Delhi being enveloped in haze by emission of the burgeoning vehicle population. So, along with energy production, energy conservation also is the need of the hour.

Because no country in the world has been able to achieve a Human Development Index of 0.9 or more without an annual energy supply of at least 4 toe per capita. Consequently, there is a large latent demand for energy in order to have reasonable income and a decent quality of life for people.

India’s crude oil import of 220.43 MMT (Million Metric Tons) alone cost Rs.5,65,951 in 2017-18, as against 213.93 MMT valued at Rs.4,70,159 crores in 2016-17, an increase of 3.04% in terms of quantity and 20.37% in terms of value. If we could recover the 21,700 crore rupees bank fraud committed by Mallaya and Nirav Modi, at least a fraction of this import cost could be met! It is in this regard that in India 14th December of each year is observed as Energy Conservation Day.

The Day demonstrates India’s achievements in energy efficiency and conservation; this, while working towards a holistic development. India has been responsible for almost 10% of the increase in global energy demand since 2000. India’s energy demand has gone up from 4.4% of total global energy demand in 2000 to 5.7% in 2013. The word Energy encompasses all types of energy sources – coal, oil & gas, nuclear, and alternate / renewable sources of energy.

Therefore, by passing The Energy Conservation Act 2001, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was statutorily created under the Ministry of Power with a mission to assist in developing policies and strategies that will help reduce this energy demand by promoting widespread adoption of energy efficiency measures.

While on one side India’s energy demand is on the ever increasing mode, on the other side the domestic energy production is far below the demand. By 2040, more than 40% of primary energy supply will be imported, up from 32% in 2013, which itself is an alarming figure.

Towards achieving its mission, BEE has initiated a number of energy efficiency initiatives in the areas of household lighting, commercial buildings, standards and labelling of appliances, demand side management in agriculture/municipalities, SME’s/large industries, including initiation of process for development of energy consumption norms for industrial sub sectors, capacity building of State-level distribution companies, etc.

As part of its efforts, BEE observes Energy Conservation Day on 14th December each year, when it recognizes and encourages endeavours of industries in reducing energy consumption by felicitating them with National Energy Conservation Awards. BEE also awards prizes to winners of its annual National Painting Competition on Energy Conservation.

It would be surprising that some eight centuries back itself we Indians had practised energy conservation. A solid proof of this effort is available in solid stone at the world-famous Sun Temple in Konark that was completed by 1255 A.D. On the lowest basement of this beautiful structure is a miniature panel depicting travellers cooking on the wayside.

Two women are seen using a double-burner stove that is fired with wood. A man stands near a loaded cart with the two bullocks unyoked and resting nearby. Another woman is seen pounding something in the mortar with a pestle. A sitting figure is damaged beyond recognition. This is one of the notable and interesting panels in that edifice.

Such a small panel and at the bottommost level, yet throbbing with life and action! Note the smiling elephant that is approaching, probably attracted by the smell of cooking. This is one of the many panels that depict ordinary citizens’ social life, thus adding variety and color to the Black Pagoda.

Such a double-burner clay stove fired by wood was used by my granny, long back. Now this kitchen top lies unused, as the LPG stove has made its entry with a bang. Yes, freedom from smoke and labour but they say the food lacks the flavour. To get something you have to lose something, that is the law. The wood was usually from the palm grove or backyard trees.

Once lit in the morning for coffee and breakfast (usually idly or dosai), it would continue till the elaborate lunch – of rice, dhal, ghee, sambhar, rasam, kootu & porial (gravy & sauté vegetable side dishes) and buttermilk – is prepared. Well, maybe oil-fried applam or vathal (pappad) for us, the kids. The firewood would be pulled out by 12.30 PM and water sprinkled on it.

For emergency requirements, kerosene stove came in handy. The heavy brass vessels have given way to pressure cookers and non-stick wares. Well, you need to conserve not only energy but also time which is golden.

But questions are being raised about the efficacy of renewable / alternate energy sources also; as reported recently, even the windmills could be harmful to nature. As its massive blades rotate, they are said to be affecting the stratosphere by making it dry and, hence, affecting the rain flow, too. Sucking out oil and gas from earth’s lap could be a cause for natural disasters.

The truth about how safe is the solar power to our environment might come out next. The less said the better about nuclear energy. What is the choice? Do we go back to Palaeolithic age, like palaeo food that is gaining attention to lose weight? Until we decide, let us Conserve Energy and save our own skin. Because, what we call development is actually destruction of Nature.


* S Balakrishnan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at krishnanbala2004(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)in
This article was webcasted on January 06 2019.



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