Apart from discussion on renewable energy, the state min also called for urban forests and prioritising agriculture
State environment and tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray has called for solar panels and windmills along the highway and expressway in a bid to foster environment-friendly solutions for renewable energy. Thackeray was in the city on Wednesday to attend a conference to discuss carbon-neutral Pune by 2030. The event was organised by Pune International Centre (PIC).
Thackeray said, “The open spaces and medians could have solar panels to generate clean form of energy.” He also said that plans to harvest rainwater along the stretches, by collecting it in a reservoir, are on the anvil. “The water harvested could be used during drought conditions or scarcity,” he added.
The minister also emphasised on the importance of environmental impact reports as the lack of its standing — to form corrective measures — has seen a spurt in protests against the government. Thackarey also said that it would be a shame to contest elections on the promise of oxygen hotspots on the lines of offering free Wi-Fi.
“The environment ministry should be made a part of different departments of the government,” he added. Elaborating on clean energy solutions for a sustainable future, he underscored the growth in the number of electric vehicles used for public mobility. “But, the charging stations should also be surrounded by a clean ecosystem for generation of power,” he said, adding that the scope of the environment ministry has to evolve beyond regulating sewage treatment plants and filing cases against civic body officials for violating environmental norms.
“There should be models for air pollution, proper functioning of incineration plants, solid waste management, public awareness, eco-planning in the government development plans and water treatment,” he said.
On climate change and the recently offered loan waiver by the state, Thackarey said that agriculture has to be thought of as a whole. “For the last four years, the political programmes have revolved around drought, excessive rainfall and floods. We need to move towards adapting to climate change by bringing resilient systems,” he added.
A need for urban forest was highlighted. While discussing this aspect, he talked of government’s pro-environment stance, wherein it has charted out dedicated plots to plant four lakh trees to create an urban forest.
“Urban farming needs to be promoted too,” he said, adding, “The present generation is being penalised for the environmental damages done by the present generation. We need to stop taxing the present.”
Commissioner of Pune
Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) Vikram Kumar said that suggestions by non-governmental organisation and green initiatives are being incorporated in the development of PMRDA region. “Steps are being taken to protect the agricultural land and irrigation cover. Also, we will be encouraging more and more people to take to public transport with the advent of Metro,” he said. Carbon neutral townships are on the cards, which will be developed with the help of Swiss government.