Matters concerned with Environment

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Areva Plans for 1,000 MW Concentrating Solar Power in India

Areva Plans for 1,000 MW Concentrating Solar Power in India

november 04, 2010

Areva has set its eyes on Concentrating Solar Power production in India.

Areva Plans for 1,000 MW Concentrating Solar Power in India

plans to put up 250MW capacity at four locations and is currently
negotiating with the governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra
and Gujarat.

Areva has announced its plans to start two new subsidiary companies to
mobilize the required investment of $3 billion for installing the solar
thermal plant.

Areva has initiated dialogues with two leading financial investment
companies for starting a partnership venture to build a 1,000 MW solar
thermal power plant within the next five to seven years time.

Areva has unveiled its plans to develop the plants exclusively by
utilizing the power purchase agreements (PPA) with the state governments
in India without availing the facilities available under the National
Solar Mission program.

According to Anil Srivastava, Areva Renewables Chief Executive Officer,
the company intends to commence the construction of the plant on signing
the convincing power purchase agreements with the state governments
without waiting for the signing of agreements for the full production
capability of 1,000 MW.

Currently he did not name the financial institutions ready to fund the
project and clarified that the proposed tie-ups are expected to take
place after six months.

Areva also has plans to set up a wholly owned auxiliary company for
performing engineering and building work to construct solar turbines and
solar islands which are actually synthetic membranes used for keeping
solar panels.

The company has spelt out its intentions to create an EPC (engineering,
procurement, construction) firm to work in cooperation with a partnering
company from India. The Indian company will be engaged in the civil
works related to the plant and erect the solar islands and turbines
produced by Areva. The created EPC company will sustain Areva’s efforts
in building a supply chain and help in exporting manufactured parts to
West Asia and Australia.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On National Green Tribunal

Can India's New Green Court Get the Job Done?

AP Photo/Sondeep Shankar

Two men carry children blinded by the 1984 Union Carbide chemical pesticide leak to a hospital in Bhopal, India

India has launched a new “green” court this week in the latest push from Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to toughen up the nation's environmental laws. The National Green Tribunal, as it's called, will be composed of 20 judiciary and environmental expert members who will hear cases regarding environmental protection and rights around the country, and have the power to dispense compensation from environmental negligence as they see fit. The legal body is part of the National Green Tribunal Act passed by India's parliament in June, and follows the example of similar tribunals that have been set up in Australia and New Zealand, says the government. (Read TIME's recent interview with Ramesh.)

A green court, particularly for a vast, growing nation with a catastrophic industrial disaster like Bhopal on its books, sounds like a good idea, but the plan's critics are worried it will deliver more of the same. That is, nothing.

That's because India has created similar bodies before — the National Environment Tribunal in 1995, established to handle cases arising from accidents during the handling of hazardous materials, and the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) in 1997. “We have not seen these two active, and I have not seen any diagnostic study of why they failed in the first place,” says Sanjay Upadhyay, the founder of India's first environmental law firm. The effect of the bodies' failures, says Upadhyay, has been that grievances in environmental cases that should have been filed at the appellate level have often leapfrogged to the higher court systems, including the Supreme Court. That court has been praised for its proactive approach in environmental cases; the court's interpretation of the Indian constitution's guarantee of the "Right to Life" includes the right to a healthy, pollution-free environment. (See pictures of Bhopal's legacy.)

However, Upadhyay says, the high courts' rulings on sweeping environmental issues like sustainable development and the precautionary principle are often too broad to be properly managed at the ground level. “The court system has given draconian orders and judgments which are not implementable. We have laws that are so lofty, but there is no operational arrangement after that,” he says. He fears the new green court may suffer from the same disease, passing judgments that are not supported by sufficient infrastructure to carry them through. “The view that I have had personally is that we've always been jumping the gun without really getting into the administrative first step required.”

A July op-ed in the Indian daily the Hindu argued that, whatever the failures of the past bodies, the new tribunal is sure to have its own shortcomings, including the voice that it gives industry (companies can also appeal their cases), ambiguities about who will pay compensation the court awards, and how the time limit on cases the court will hear could leave some victims, whose symptoms take years to materialize, out of luck. It also notes that Ramesh's stated plan of symbolically headquartering the tribunal in Bhopal, where thousands were killed after a Union Carbide plant manufacturing pesticide malfunctioned and released poisonous gas over the area in 1984, could in fact delay the already long-delayed justice in the case of an unfavorable ruling there that would then send them back to the Supreme Court. (Read TIME's 1984 cover story about the Bhopal disaster.)

All that said, it's hard to say this doesn't seem like a step in the right direction. India remains a model for its neighbors in Asia for making the legal system a place where environmental justice can be found. It will be up the government moving forward with this new tool as to how easily, and how often, even more Indians find it.


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