Wednesday, December 14, 2016


As part of the Sustainably Smart Pune project, we conducted a household survey in Ghole road municipal ward. The survey was aimed at understanding how various city services are being used by different income categories of people. It is important to assess the usage of different city functions/services by different income categories if you want to make real changes in the quality of life of those affected by them.

To get a fair representation of the ward, we selected samples from 4 income categories of people : HIG (high Income group), MIG (middle income group), LIG (low income group) and SLUMs.  It was an interview survey where our interns went to houses and filled the form online/paper.

It was an extensive survey covering socio- economic parameters, household services, infrastructure services, lifestyle services etc.  In a series of blog posts, I would like to share some of the interesting outcomes of the survey, findings , comments etc.  

Starting with the socio-economic parameters: HH size, income, education, occupation, expenditure and savings. 

1.HH size
*While most of the HIG, MIG,LIG households have 4 to 5 members, a large number of slums have  6 family members. 

2. HH Income

*Many were not willing to share the data, but plausible indications of divide is clear. 

3. Educational qualifications

*More than 35% of men and women  are educated above 10th in LIG and Slums.

These are few obvious indicators of  divide between the income categories.  It is clear from the education, income, unemployment graphs that lower the income, lower the education level, higher unemployment – leading to lower income and low standard of living – this is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. 

In the next blog, more on Occupation, Savings and Expenditure pattern will be analysed. 

We would love to hear from you. If you wish to read the whole survey and analysis report, please mail us. We would love to share it with you. 

Anu Kuncheria

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Talks ahead - COP 22

The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) on climate change is going to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco from November 7 – 18. This COP is going to be more significant than the Paris as it sets the ball rolling.

In Paris, December last year, countries agreed to limit increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degree Celsius and pursue efforts to limit to 1.5 degree Celsius. On 5th October 2016, the threshold for entry into force - 55 countries and 55% of global emissions - was met, meaning that the Paris Agreement will enter into force on 4 November 2016. So far 86 countries have ratified it.

Now is the time for some major decisions and framework. The guidelines and procedures of the agreement are to be laid out now. Its structure is very crucial on how the countries go on with their low carbon future.

For matters to become reality, discussion on finance is very important. Climate finance was a hot topic in Paris talks. Developed countries have agreed to mobilize 100 billion dollar per year but this is not legally binding.  India is highly committed to reducing its emissions and turning green. But this is not possible without financial and technological support as India has to meet its developmental needs to address poverty. One of the main agenda to be discussed and concreted would be the mobilizing of green climate fund and technology transfer from the developed nations. This should be a legally binding in the agreement.  How, how much and what counts as financial resources will be the hot topic in COP22.  Further the mitigation finance need to be increased to combat current climate change problems.

Another important discussion India aims to bring to table is the road map for 2016-2020. Paris agreement comes into force from 2020. So the time period from now to 2020 is crucial for mobilizing, and meets the determined goals in a systemic manner. India also trying to bring notice on the high energy lifestyle and consumption of the developed world and hold it accountable.

COP22 will be significant as to how the responsibility is shared among the nations.  For  practical and fair future scenario, developed countries should take historic responsibility and help developing countries combat climate change.  All countries have set their mandate for discussions and hopefully a stronger agreement will turn out.  

Anu Kuncheria

Monday, October 17, 2016

Renewable energy for years to come

In 2015, Sweden came up with an ambitious goal to go 100% fossil free.

Earth is warming and we need to avoid it getting worse.  The primary reason causing warming is the manmade release of CO2 from the fossil fuel use. Since industrialization, energy has been predominant in all our uses. It is unimaginable for a world without electricity, petrol and diesel. Hence it’s imperative to find alternative forms of energy that meets our demand without altering the climate. And this is  possible only with renewable energy (RE) sources.

It is possible to meet the entire world’s energy demands with renewable energy; Its only a matter of time and political will. There are many myths associated with renewable energy. First and foremost is the perception that renewable energy is expensive. In recent years, the cost of solar and wind energy has declined substantially and in few years time, it will be cheaper than fossil fuels. Deutsche bank estimates show that the economics of solar has improved significantly due to reduction in solar panel costs, financing costs and balance of system costs with overall 15% CAGR cost reduction over the past 8 years and expects another 40% cost reduction over the next 4-5 years.

The second common myth is that the renewable energy is not reliable and cannot provide 24*7 supply. This is absolutely false. RE Technology has improved so much that it is completely reliable, safe and can meet all our energy demands. The transition from coal to renewable is possible in few years time.

India’s RE future

Wind mill
India is the 3rd largest energy consumer in the world and much of it is from fossil fuels. In order to effectively combat climate change, India needs to do its due share. It has already committed to increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy to 40%. The main focus is on solar and wind energy. The commitment to increase solar power from 30 GW to 175 GW by 2022 is a huge opportunity for energy deficit India for rural electrification.
Solar panels
Image Source:

As economist Jeremy Rifkin said, while speaking in New Delhi in  2012: “India is the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy sources and, if properly utilized, India can realize its place in the world as a great power — but political will is required for the eventual shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

To secure its energy future, India needs to increase energy efficiency, promote renewable energy, increase decentralized energy system and bring in strong policies. With these in place,  the transition to 100% renewable energy is both possible and affordable.

Countries  around the globe is increasing investment in renewable energy. Many developed countries like Germany, Denmark already has high share of renewable energy. It is very important that developed countries must help developing countries with technology and money to support their energy demands. Only then the entire world can combat climate change together and let coal remain grounded.

Anu Kuncheria


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fossil Fuel Industry should pay for their Deeds..

Ignorance is no excuse; pretended ignorance deserves harsher punishment.

Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity, and those solutions will present themselves as those challenges become clear” - ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said at the company’s 2015 annual shareholder meeting.

ExxonMobil, the american multinational oil and gas corporation giant, is under probe for withhelding information from shareholders and the public about the risks associated with their business. The company’s own climate researchers had warned the senior management of the potential negative effects of green house gas emissions way back in 1977 which was kept a secret by the company.  

19 US Senators in July 2016, called out fossil fuel industry on their Climate change denials. The big oil and gas Corporations were exposed for carrying out corporate funded campaign to spread skepticism regarding climate change. Fossil fuel industry made millions of financial transactions to fuel the climate change denial machine.

Image source:

A climate consensus was reached at the beginning of 1990s that: manmade activities are causing climate change. To prevent this from achieving a concrete status, the fossil fuel industry started funding numerous independent think tanks, researchers to write and publish against climate change. They wanted to create the sense of ’doubt’ and divide climate science into a debate. Their tactic was to place ‘doubts’ to  delay climate action. This tactic was employed by all the think tanks and researchers funded by the fossil fuel industry.  Between 1994 and 1997, 1 billion US dollar was spent to downplay the climate change effect. This misinformation campaign was funded by all the big oil companies including Exxon Mobil, Koch brothers etc. They funded everyone from business groups to think tanks to researchers to youth to senior citizens to rubbish the climate change science. They tried extensively to brand climate change as just ‘a theory’ and not truth.  Investigative reports by The Guardian, Inside climate news series found that  Exxon Mobil has spent at least $33 million since 1998 on a network of more than 60 think tanks, advocacy groups and trade associations, many of which continue to distort climate science and denigrate renewable energy to this day.

America is the largest contributor of Green house gases (GHGs). Work of geographer Richard Heede shows that a relatively small number of investor- and government-owned companies are responsible for two-thirds of human-caused carbon emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Heede’s 2014 study found that just 90 companies accounted for 65 percent of worldwide carbon emissions between 1854 and 2013. Half of those companies’ total emissions have occurred since 1988 — long after the scientific community and the public became aware of the threat posed by global warming. Rather than changing their business models, they pumped in millions for climate denials and lied for decades meantime profiting billions of dollars from polluting the earth.

Its them- the fossil fuel industry including the likes of Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, Peabody Energy, Consol Energy, Arch Coal etc - who should pay for the remedial measures. They should be charged for their actions.  Fossil fuel industry in USA gets 7.5 billion dollar subsidy annually. This should be taken away and given to clean energy industry.

They should be made to :
·         Acknowledge the negative impacts caused by them and accept wrong doings
·          Change into a clean model of energy and
·         Pay 60% or more for the climate adaptation and mitigation funds.

Only by  stringent measures can we prevent another tobacco or coal episode in future.

Anu Kuncheria

Heede, R. Climatic Change (2014) 122: 229. doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0986-y

FOSSIL INDUSTRY – Part of the problem;not solution!

New expos√© unearths the true dirt behind COP21’s corporate sponsors" Corporate Accountability International

There are different stakeholders in climate change talks with varying interests. Having everyone’s voices heard is part of the negotiation; but when some stakeholders interest conflicts with the main focus of discussion, it becomes a problem.
At COP 21 Paris
Image Source:
One such main conflict stakeholder in climate change discussions is the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel industry’s market lies in generating energy from fossil fuels; the main cause for climate change. Climate change mitigation strategies will reduce their market, business and profit. Hence its irony when they sponsor UN climate change (COP21) talks unless they have some hidden agenda.

To reduce global warming, there is a definite need to shift from fossil fuel to cleaner sources of energy. In this process, the obvious impact will be on fossil fuel industry. Many countries have already pledged to cut billions of dollars in the industry subsidies. Over the years, the fossil fuel industry has tried hard to not bring climate research to public; but extreme weather conditions have become so frequent that no one can avoid it any more. It is alleged that the fossil fuel industry had and still has a major role in subduing the importance of climate change and underplaying its effects. They are alleged to have suppressed climate research and blinded the truth. Fossil fuel industry is playing same strategy as that of Tobacco industry which for years denied and hid the negative effects of its product after knowing it. Exxon Mobil, the energy major is now facing numerous investigations into whether the company lied to investors and committed fraud by covering up the risks of climate change for decades.

There is a big concern that climate change negotiations are unduly influenced by fossil fuel industry. In the Paris agreement, their involvement was actively seen with many events being sponsored by the fossil fuel industry. Its common sense to see that a negotiation with such undue influence of fossil fuel lobby will not set concrete climate change mitigation policies. Corporate accountability international released a report “Fueling the Fire” which exposes the environmental destruction and public policy interference of the leading COP21 sponsors including fossil fuel majors Engie, Suez Environment as well as bank BNP Paribas and French utility √Člectricit√© de France. The report clearly shows the conflict of interest inherent in allowing such sponsorship.  As fossil fuel industry is powerful and rich, if part of the negotiations, their undue influence will continue and impact the discussions in a negative way.  Either they should be banned from the negotiations or there should be clear rules to their limits of participation.

In the mean time, as they find their business shaky, the coal industry is now looking into developing countries and racing to get coal plants build and lock these countries in coal dependence. They project coal as affordable and available resource to meet their energy requirements. It’s surprising to see a large number of countries including China, India, Turkey, Vietnam and South Africa building huge coal fired power plants exceeding their future energy demands. What the fossil industry is looking for is power plants and once they are built, these countries will become fossil fuel dependent.

The fossil fuel industry has mislead public since 1970s about the effect of CO2  for self interest. They are concerned only with their profits and money making; welfare of our planet and other fellow beings is not their concern - hence their participation will jeopardize climate change negotiations and thus should be BANNED from the discussions!

Anu Kuncheria


Fueling the fire: The big polluters bankrolling COP21 by Corporate Accountability International

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Note: For the next few weeks,  a climate series will be posted with  focus on Climate change and the politics of fossil fuel industry. It is important to know and understand  that climate change is real and  there is no doubt that human intervention is the reason. Creating doubt in climate science is the malicious efforts of the fossil fuel Industry for their own prosperity. India is one of the countries who is going to be severely impacted by climate change, and hence, we should pressurize our government to act on it with utmost priority. 

IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change) predicts India could experience a 40% decline in agricultural productivity in the next 50 years. This exacerbates the growing demand to double our  food production to feed the burgeoning population.  

All climate models predict more extreme weather conditions with droughts, heavy rain falls, storms in most parts of India as a result of climate change. The foremost threat is to agriculture. With different agro climatic zones, diverse cropping patterns and seasons, 2/3rd rainfed, climate variability is already affecting agriculture in India. According to Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, decrease in number of rainy days (5-15 days on an average) is expected over much of India, along with an increase in heavy rainfall days in the monsoon season. These changes are expected to increase the vulnerability of Indian agriculture.

The recent HudHud cyclone caused devastation for the state of Andhra Pradesh.  In one of my  visits to the affected area, the farmers showed vast tracts of previously fertile land filled with huge boulders and stones leaving it unfertile now. Most of these families with just one piece of land in their holding, now has nothing to cultivate.  According to Andhra government, cyclone HudHud caused 2190 crore rupees (328 million USD) loss with agriculture sector being the worst hit.  Similarly in 2013, Uttarakhand flash floods, 30% of cultivated area in the state was severely affected resulting crop loss and damages.  Crop loss, unfertile lands, spread of diseases are major challenges to India’s food security.
Due to vagaries of climate, agricultural investments have become a big gamble.  This has taken a heavy toll on farmers, who burdened with huge debts ends up taking their own lives. Farmer suicides have increased by 40% between 2014 and 2015.

Climate change is drastically going to affect our water resources. In India, almost 80% water is consumed for agriculture. The demand for water in urban areas has increased over the years. The growing urbanization has increased water sharing conflicts between cities and villages.  Portable drinking water is still not accessible to millions of Indians.   In addition, ground water is over exploited in many parts of the country. With the fluctuating rains, water is soon going to be an expensive commodity.

Climate change Education classes for
school children in Paderu, AP 
by Laya, INECC
A flip side to water scarcity is floods and droughts. Approximately 40 million hectares of the land is vulnerable to floods, with 8 million hectares affected by it. Of the total agricultural land in India, about 68% is prone to drought of which 33% is chronically drought prone, receiving rainfall of less than 750mm per year. Unabated global warming will lead to exacerbation of the droughts, cutting down the water availability  and increased floods will worsen the situation.

Another major challenges for Indian cities which aim to become ‘smart’ is climate resilience.  Cities are constantly threatened by climate change exposing its poor infrastructure and high vulnerability.  As India is expecting more million plus cities, infrastructure and basic services should be the first priority. The vulnerability of Indian cities is exposed in the recent 2015 Chennai floods which brought the city standstill for many days. Cities are also more prone to communicable diseases, air pollution and bad health due to changing climate. Climate change if not abated is projected to decrease India’s GDP by 9%.
It is also possible that climate change may fasten the pace of rural-urban migration over the next few decades. The agrarian crisis in rural India could be catalyzed by climate change into a migratory rout, driven by greater monsoon variability, endemic drought, flooding and resource conflict.

Also, coastal ecosystem is susceptible to huge damages as a result of climate change with salt water intrusion affecting ground water, submergence of land, displacement of families, spread of diseases, destruction of coral reefs, damages to biodiversity.

WHY 1.5 C???

With agreeing to reduce warming to “well below 2 C” in the Paris agreement, world has recognized the threat that comes with more warming. For many, including developing countries and island nations it’s a threat to their very own existence.

So what is the huge difference in half a degree?
The target to reduce warming to 1.5 C instead of 2 C is very important as a half degree averaged out over the whole world can mean much more of an increase in some locations and at certain times. It could be 5 or 10 degrees warmer at certain places than 1.5 or 2 degrees.  The European Geosciences Union published a study in April 2016 that examined the impact of a 1.5 C vs. a 2.0 C temperature increase by the end of the century. It found that the increase from 1.5 to 2 degrees raises the impact on phenomenon by about one third.  Heat waves would last around a third longer, rain storms would be about a third more intense and the increase in sea level would be approximately a third higher.

A study published by Erich Fischer and R Knutti  of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Zurich found that the risk of what was “once in a 1,000 days” hot weather has already increased five-fold. Their modeling suggests that it will double again at 1.5 C and double once more as we go from 1.5 to 2 C.

It looks like 1.5 C warming is manageable for the world. Still 2 questions arise:
a)What are the implications of 1.5 C warming?
b) How are going to limit the warming to 1.5 C??

During the Paris meet in 2015, UN’s IPCC have been asked to submit report on implications of 1.5 C targets by 2018. 

Climate change is going to affect each one of us. Its just a matter of few years - however rich or poor - we will have to deal with it. Its high time each of us make low carbon transitions in our lifestyle at the same time  pressurize our governments to take action and voice our concerns in the international platforms. Only by engaging the entire world and bringing them in one platform, do we succeed in saving our planet!

Anu Kuncheria

1. Senapati, M. R. , Behera, B. , & Mishra, S. R. (2013). Impact of Climate Change on Indian Agriculture & Its Mitigating Priorities. American Journal of Environmental Protection, 1(4), 109-111.

2. Kumar R, Gautam HR (2014) Climate Change and its Impact on Agricultural Productivity in India. J Climatol Weather Forecasting 2:109. doi:10.4172/2332-2594.1000109


4. E. M. Fischer, R. Knutt Anthropogenic contribution to global occurrence of heavy-precipitation and high-temperature extremes, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

WALKING MALL... Any Takers in Pune?

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it's where the rich use public transportation -  Mayor of Bogota

This blog is about a good initiative in another part of the country. Its about a walking mall project in MG Road, Kochi, Kerala. 

MG Road is the busiest commercial road in Kochi, the  commercial capital of Kerala. It houses numerous and famous textile, jewelry showrooms and hotels. It is the pride of Kochi city. KMRL (Kochi Metro Rail Ltd), the SPV formed for implementing the Kochi metro project is taking up many new initiatives in the city for developing a comprehensive multimodal transportation system.  One such initiative is the walking mall for MG Road.

The Proposal: The plan put forth by KMRL is to make MG Road (from Madhava Pharmacy Junction to Jos Juntionn) one way with vehicles permitted only in south- north direction. Chittor road will be used for the opposite direction traffic. Vehicles will be limited to one side of the road and the remaining space will be planned for pedestrian and non motorized movement. Walkways, cycle tracks, food kiosks, street furniture and trees are also planned. The pedestrian zone will run along the eastern side half the way, while it shifts side and occupy the western side for the other half. The plan also aims to develop multi-tier parking lots on a public–private partnership basis.

 Many have raised concerns against this plan.  Citizens are astonished about narrowing the width of MG Rd when they see widening the road as the solution to the increasing traffic. So is widening the real solution to the traffic problems??

How it works around the globe:
Cities around the globe have met increasing traffic and transportation demands through efficient public transportation and non motorized transportation. It is one of the signs for a mature and livable city. In all the developed cities, more than 50% people use public transport: Reason being it’s made highly expensive to use the private vehicles (congestion taxes, parking taxes etc) PLUS good public transportation system is in place.

City of New York is a good example. It is distinguished from other US cities for its low personal automobile ownership and high public transportation. More than 50% commute to work via public transportation and almost 10% via walking. This has made the city the most energy efficient city in the US. Broadway in New York is a major commercial street which saw huge transformation from a car intensive street to a pedestrian friendly street. Broadway was congested with vehicles, narrow pedestrian walkways resulting in unpleasant working and shopping environment until New York department of transportation decided to reconfigure it into a pedestrian friendly street. In one of the most dramatic changes to the corridor, Broadway was completely closed to vehicle traffic at Times Square and Herald Square, which created room for new pedestrian plazas and spaces, and allowed for longer signal times for vehicles at the adjacent avenues. It was found that the project improved the traffic flow, increased safety and brought in more business to the area.

Why it works for Kochi:
Kochi is the commercial centre of Kerala along with being a famous tourist centre. Given the fact that Kochi is one of the Indian cities with best public transport (bus) systems, it is imperative to take more actions towards making transportation sustainable and the city livable. MG road project should not be viewed just as a transport project in fact it is also a  city rejuvenation project.  

Once completed, Kochi metro will further add on to the public transportation facilities. Having good public transport, it is ideal to put in place policies/plans to move people from private vehicles to public vehicles. And yes, policies should be such that using private vehicles should be made difficult and only then people will shift to public vehicles. MG Rd is now facing stiff competition from other commercial centres in the north and is now the  best time for the transformation of the area to assign new functions to it. The new project would bring back the focus to MG Rd and bring more people and business to it.

It is argued by those against the plan that making MG Rd one way will reduce the business and commerce in the area. The argument itself is fallacious as  seen that wherever such transformations have happened, it has attracted more people and more business. One such example from India is Mall Road, Shimla, a completely pedestrian street, running as a good commercial road as well as tourist centre.  Copenhagen has a large downtown which is car free shopping area which is heavily used. Camden high street, London is another example.

Other than reducing congestion and rejuvenating the area, there are more benefits in the long run. 
a) Environment benefits: Reduction in air pollution, increased energy efficiency, reduction in carbon footprint 
b) Economic: Reduction in travel time, Reduction in travel cost. Increased revenue from commerce and tourism 
c) Commercial:  Increased business 
d)Tourism:  Increased tourists, a main tourism attraction centre.

Idea is good – Way forward??
Having supported the idea, I am concerned whether adequate studies are done to asses the carrying capacities of Chittor Rd and TD Rd. Also the MG road transformation should not be just for itself, but also include side streets and the area around it to suit the overall plan. This should be linked with the water metro project and there should be facilities for people who get down at the Boat jetty to cycle or use metro to reach MG Rd, Marine drive and other centers around. A tourism corridor could be planned linking these. Adequate parking facilities need to be allocated near the metro stations and area around for efficient execution of the plan. Also providing proper drainage facilities (taking into account the slope, rainfall) should be the first step for the walking mall project.

Parisar’s ‘Understanding the flyover phenomenon’ brings out some interesting facts on how the cycle city Pune became 2 wheeler city and perception of people on flyovers with over 68% percent thinking flyovers signify development!

ROAD WIDENING is never a solution to the increasing traffic; neither is FLYOVERS! Public transportation and Non motorized Transportation is the way to go!
 Anu Kuncheria

Friday, June 24, 2016

Think Twice..!

It was 7th May, I was at a height of 30000 ft in an airplane, thinking about the “Oxford of the East”. Yes, I was going to stay in Pune for the next two months. A huge nervousness was rolling through my nerves, “how the city will welcome me? How the localities will be? I cannot stay hungry for long and I’m a non-junk food lover, how it would be if I don’t get my desired food. As I have never worked in an office before, I was concerned whether I would be able to deliver all that my mentor would want me to?.....and so on. Three hours passed like a few minutes and my plane landed. I saw my best friend waiting for me in the crowd, and the welcoming part was pretty good with hugs and introduction with her friends. She guided me through the city to her residence. The next day my friends took me out to have a glimpse of the city, and the very first place I was interested in, was “Samuchit Enviro Tech”. From far I could see the signboard on the balcony of a building, reciting the organization’s name. So, it was a first hand experience on how to reach the workplace from the place of stay and back.

Confused and excited, I reached the organization next day where I saw Anu, and three more interns (three more joined after me), and my mentor Dr. Priyadarshini Karve. I looked back at Anu, the only person I was familiar with, and smiled. Karve ma’am, and all the other personnel who hold high knowledge, skill and experience in their respective field, today they make a family of mine in Pune. We were asked to review the report that was prepared by Anu about the smartness of the city of Pune and its sustainability. Other than this, we discussed about the issues that were supposed to be covered during the survey for collection / assembling of data. We used ‘Survey Monkey’ for online filling up of the data collected during the survey, through which one can easily get the summary of the survey online. After 2 days of discussion, on 11th May, all of us, enthused for the survey, met at the office, and went out with four scooties fully loaded with fuel and we all loaded with courage.

So our target was 438 HH (Household) comprising of 263 general HH and 175 slum HH, which is about 1% of the total population of Ghole Road Ward of Pune, a representative of Pune city. We surveyed Ward no. 11, 12, 13, 24, 25 and 36 for about 20 days and five days were spent on uploading the data in survey monkey. Today is my 38th day in the organization and I will be back to my study town Guwahati by next week, so I thought of writing this blog about my experience. Well, a month before I knew nothing about this city, but today I have so much in my mind that I actually felt short of space to narrate all the issues in brief.

Pune is well known for its vibrant civil society and cultural richness. It has also achieved a rich legacy of participation in governance, smart city concept is like a cherry on top of the cake. It has brought transparency and engagement of the ordinary or the bottom up approach in the decision making process more transparent. But I was dazed to know that about a one sixth of the total population, which is about more than half (my survey experience) of the HIGs (High Income Group), doesn’t want to participate in any kind of conversation on the developmental issues. The arguments or excuses that I mostly came across was - “Pune is already smart as you are; we don’t want to provide you any information; we don’t have time for all this crap; we are sleeping come later (but later they never opened the door), where are you from, you have come so far to do this job?…..etc”. Such responses were mostly from the HIGs and very little from the MIGs. More shocking was an incident which happened to a friend of mine, who had carried out a survey in a HIG residence. One lady requested my friend to come next day to collect the form (the questionnaire that was supposed to be filled up on the spot), as she was very busy with other work. My friend went the next day to collect it along with me and another friend of ours. We rang the bell, the lady opened the door, but her creepy expression scared us. As we all three intended to enter the house, she stopped the two of us and allowed one to enter the room. We were at a loss to see her behavior and were standing outside, clueless about what was happening inside. About 20 minutes later, my friend came out red faced with tears rolling down. Yes, she was harassed. She was harassed by that lady for asking “insight” and “too personal” questions “like how many LPG cylinders you use in a month, how many cars you have, what is your monthly electricity consumption in units etc. etc”. My friend tried to cool her down by narrating that it was not mandatory for one to fill up every answer in finest correctness,but only approximated or average figure would suffice the purpose. Also, she explained the relevance of such data in the context of the project. But the lady kept on abusing her even by lowering her character. Our survey and its analysis are a part of a bigger project which aims to “develop a roadmap for establishing sustainability for Pune on a low carbon emission and social equity path”. This master plan would definitely need such questions to be answered to get the per capita carbon emission. 

However, this incident reminded me that - like developed countries refusing to take any responsibility for global climate change, these irresponsible groups of HIGs also do not want to participate in the carbon emission control program in our country. On the other hand the LIGs and the people staying in slums cooperated to the fullest. Many of them never enjoyed luxury holidays, never shopped good clothes in shopping malls and never had food in prestigious restaurants and also the problems in the city never bothered them. But they honored and respected the city of Pune - saying it is the greatest of all. But after our presentation of the problems of carbon emission etc. to them, they kept their heart out before us. Some of them had the knowledge of drought conditions in the city and insisted not to supply water 24x7 in their area but to help those who do not get a drop of water to drink or bath and have to buy it. Some of the scenior citizens also suggested to reduce the height of the foothpaths as it is difficult for them to climb and some wanted to know the goverment schemes in details so that they can claim for their right. It seemed they truly want to be a part of the developmental process of the city. Truly said, only education and money can’t make one as humble and big hearted as a poor, who has little knowledge and very little for a living, but has huge to give to the society.

However, the final analysis is yet to be done and the results would definitely concentrate more on the problems of Carbon Emission, the manner in which these can be brought down to an acceptable limit by justified minimum utilization of carbon fuel like petrol, kerosene, etc. and maximum on non carbon fuel like solar power, bio gas, etc. But the purpose of the survey of involving the citizens in the decision making was rejected by a percentage of HIG citizens themselves. And these are the citizens who at liberty to criticize the government tomorrow for not doing enough to control environmental or sanitation degradation or maybe that they are not at all bothered about the future requirements of the society.

So, in this way I/we knew Pune and its people. The credit for this achievement purely goes to the members of the “Samuchit Enviro Tech”, Pune. All our team mates also helped each other to reach the goal set forth. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. My special thanks goes to the kind hearted Mentor Madam Dr. Priyadarshini Karve, who effectively helped and guided us to remain enthused and we learned and solved critical issues cropped up during project execution. I also thank Miss Anu, for her tireless job to solve issues that we were unacquainted of and got first hand experience on field work. My gratitude goes to all these beloved people. And lastly, it would not be out of place to mention that I loved the city of Pune, despite the unscheduled PMPML busses, by which I traveled and criticised every day.

Geetanjali Purkayastha
Student of Ecology Environment and Sustainable development,
Tats Institute for Social Sciences, Guwahati

Thursday, June 16, 2016

MUSINGS FROM PRIYADARSHINI KARVE: Are we creating a health risk for others?

Nowadays several restaurants offer traditional food cooked on a wood fire, and many of us in urban India are fans of such chulha restaurants. Some foods just do not taste the same when cooked on gas or electric stoves. Therefore some of the traditional dishes that were staple food of earlier generations have now become occasional treats for us, thanks to these specialty restaurants. But do you know that the workers of such restaurants are facing an occupational health risk?

Please consider the following facts:

1. In a household kitchen, the cook (mostly woman) is exposed to smoke in the kitchen for about 2 hrs each, twice a day. 
The finance minister in his budget address this year raised the concern of health impacts on women due to exposure to smoke in the kitchen. Many of us have supported Government of India's #giveitup campaign to provide LPG connections to poor households. 

2. In a chulha restaurant kitchen, the cooks and helpers may be men and/or women, and are exposed to smoke for close to 6-8 hrs per day. In Maharashtra state these eateries employ women for making 'bhakri' (millet roti) which involves constantly sitting next to the chulha for 6-8 hrs. This is over and above the exposure to smoke in their own home kitchens. 

Smoky kitchen of a traditional chulha restaurant

3. The household cooking in large parts of India now happens on agricultural and forestry residue, which is renewable biomass. As large scale cooking is involved in a commercial eatery, the fuel for the chulha restaurants is typically tree wood, and there is no way to trace its origin. This is in all probability un-sustainably harvested non-renewable biomass. Thus, it is contributing to deforestation too.

Am I then saying that it is wrong to patronise chulha restaurants? No, such a drastic measure is not required!

There exist smokeless chulhas that can give the same taste and flavour to the food as the traditional chulhas, but also provide a healthier work environment for the kitchen staff. In addition, these chulhas are energy efficient, resulting in reducing consumption of firewood. This is good for the environment, and will also financially benefit the restaurant owner.

One such solution offered by Samuchit Enviro Tech is ELFD Sampada Gasifier stove. This stove runs on wood or woody waste biomass (e.g., coconut shells, corn cobs, etc.) or biomass briquettes. The stove burns cleanly with no smoke and provides a high temperature blue flame because of a 'fan' that introduces adequate amount of oxygen into the fire. This 'fan' does not require any mechanical fan or blower or even electricity - it runs on water and physics!

This smokeless stove is well suited for chulha based restaurants. It saves on fuel as well as cooking time, in comparison with traditional stoves. In our trials we have experienced nearly 70-80% fuel saving and 30-40% time saving with respect to traditional stoves. Our clients also corroborate this data. Please check the video links, which show the stove in operation. 

One video shows 'Bhakri' being made on ELFD Sampada, and the other video shows the preparation of 'Akkha Masur', which is a lentil curry, a specialty of Sangli district in Western Maharashtra state of India.

We appeal to you to inform your favorite chulha restaurants of this cooking energy option. If you are yourself associated with any such restaurants in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka states, do invite us for a demonstration. All types of traditional dishes can be cooked on this stove. The capital investment is recovered in less than an year through saving on fuel cost. It will also increase the productivity of the workers, by creating a healthier work environment. We work with the kitchen staff to figure out the most appropriate procedure to achieve the best end result for the chosen recipe with the least possible fuel consumption and minimum pollution in the kitchen.  

Nobody should face occupational health risks for the sake of our enjoyment. Help us reach out to these kitchens, so that all of us can continue to enjoy our occasional 'fix' of traditional wood fire cooking with clear conscience!    

Priyadarshini Karve
Samuchit Enviro Tech

    Samuchit Enviro Tech.