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Alternative plan to avoid idol-immersion polluting Yamuna

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Picture Credit: thehindu.in
Picture Credit: thehindu.in

New Delhi: With Indian festivities knocking at the door, pollution owing to idol immersion is one of the most important concerns worrying the locales of the capital. Idols — some of which contain toxic materials — at the Yamuna Ghat in Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj area has added to the pollution in the river, police say. Though the Puja organisers are aware of the prospective cons of idol immersion and don’t intend to pollute the Yamuna, they can’t help it as there is no alternative arrangement for the same.

On Sunday, at least 200 Ganesh idols were immersed at the ghat leading to a pile-up of idols, broken earthen pots, rotting flowers, tattered pieces of cloth and sodden coloured paper on the banks of the river which is the lifeline of the national capital.

“Even after the immersion, no one from the (municipal) corporation comes to clean the banks. The locals collect the bamboo from the river bank for their own use. This practice is seen every year. The MCD comes to just put the road in order,” said Bhubaneswar, a local resident.

According to police, at least 200 Ganesh idols were immersed on Sunday. On Friday, more than 500 Vishwakarma idols were immersed.

“This adds to the pollution in the Yamuna but no alternate arrangement has been made by the administration. This will go on till the 11th day of the ongoing Ganesh festival,” said a police official from Jaitpur police station in south Delhi.

A large quantity of insoluble waste like wood, plastic, and toxic material remained floating in the river as the puja organisers left the ghat having performed the last rituals of bidding adieu to their beloved god.

About 100 puja organisers from the Jasola Pocket 12 Ganesh Puja Samity have been coming here for the past four years since they started organising puja in their locality.

“Every year we come here for Visarjan. There is no alternate arrangement. We don’t want to pollute the Yamuna but can’t help it. The government should make separate provisions for Visarjan. Every year the Yamuna gets dirty during Ganesh festival and Durga Puja, the government should do something about it.

“There is so much space near the ghat, the government should make separate arrangement for immersion,” said Somesh Lal, an engineer and a member of the puja committee.

“The sadhus and sants (seers) of our country should come forward and create awareness about it. Only then will this practice change,” he added.

Rajesh, a member of a puja committee from Noida Sector 76, said: “The mud which is used for making Durga idols in Kolkata is always recommended because it gets absorbed in the water. Idols made of Plaster of Paris are not good because they release a lot of chemicals. The government should make alternate arrangements for immersion of idols.”

(IANS)

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U.S. Proposes Price Tag For CO2 Emissions From Cars

Some states can put programs in place with agency regulations. Others will have to go through their state legislatures.

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EMission, carbon dioxide
Researchers turn carbon emissions into usable energy. VOA

Drivers on the U.S. East Coast may soon start paying for their climate pollution.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have announced plans to introduce a system that puts a price on the carbon dioxide produced from burning gasoline and diesel fuel.

As the federal government pulls back from taking action on climate change, the proposal is an example of how states and cities are aiming to move forward.

Details are slim at this point, but the Transportation and Climate Initiative would likely require fuel suppliers to pay for each ton of carbon dioxide that burning their products would produce. Costs would presumably be passed on to consumers.

The announcement says revenues would go toward improving transportation infrastructure and low-emissions alternatives to cars, trucks and buses.

The program could raise $1.5 billion to $6 billion per year, by one estimate.

carbon dioxide
Car emission, Wikimedia

“You can imagine, that could do a lot to modernize transportation infrastructure, improve mass transit, build out electric transportation options,” said Fatima Ahmad at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, based in Washington, D.C.

Reducing traffic congestion, “which is legendary in this area,” is a priority for the region’s lawmakers, she added. Those investments could create an estimated 91,000 to 125,000 new jobs.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While electric utilities have cut production of carbon dioxide by switching from coal to natural gas and renewables, emissions from the transportation sector have been growing since 2012.

Following California

California is the only state so far that has put a price on carbon emissions from transportation fuels. The state included gas and diesel in its cap-and-trade program beginning in 2015. That program also regulates greenhouse gases from power plants and industries.

Car Emissions, carbon dioxide
Morning rush hour traffic makes its way along US 101 near downtown Los Angeles, California, Nov. 15, 2016. VOA

For transportation fuels, wholesalers buy the permits and pass on the cost. At the current price of about $15 per ton, the program adds about 13 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas.

The additional cost is less than the differences in pump price among gas stations in the same city, noted communications director Stanley Young at the California Air Resources Board, which administers the program.

“When you consider the few cents that the cap and trade program adds on to [the cost at the pump], it kind-of pales,” he said.

The state has raised more than $9 billion from permit sales since the program began in 2012.

Funds have paid for renewable energy and efficiency upgrades, mass transit, low-emissions vehicles, land preservation and other investments.

To help ease the burden on low-income consumers, a third of the funds are targeted to disadvantaged communities.

However, California’s program has not stopped vehicle CO2 emissions from rising. After a period of decline from 2007 to 2013, greenhouse gases from vehicles have increased every year since then.

Carbon dioxide
Car emissions contribute to global climate change. Pixabay

The state is studying the impact of car sharing and autonomous vehicles on reducing emissions. Young said officials are also looking into land use planning, so people live closer to work or transit.

“We invented sprawl,” he said, “and now we’re trying to deal with it.”

Hard to change

Transportation is one of the hardest sources of greenhouse gases to tackle, experts say.

Unlike the next biggest source of carbon pollution, power plants, transportation emissions come from millions of individual vehicles, and the choices their owners and drivers make have a big impact on how much carbon dioxide they produce.

There are essentially three ways to reduce their emissions, according to David Bookbinder at the Niskanen Center, a centrist research institution: make vehicles more efficient, reduce the amount of CO2 produced per unit of energy, or raise the price of fuel.

“It’s never popular to raise the price [of fuel],” Bookbinder said. Even so, “you have to really, really, really raise the price of gasoline before it has an impact on people’s use.”

Carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide
Car exhaust billows around commuter traffic in winter weather in Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 1, 2013. VOA

France’s “yellow vest” protests are one extreme reaction to raising fuel prices. They sparked the biggest outrage where driving is least avoidable: outside city centers and in areas lacking good public transit. And they demonstrate another risk: policies that make gas more expensive can have the biggest impact on the people who can least afford it.

One way to reduce the impact is by returning to consumers the money raised by pricing carbon. That’s the preferred approach in a proposal by a group of Republican elder statesmen. Investing in affordable public transit is another, Bookbinder says.

 

The members of the Transportation and Climate Initiative — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — will spend a year designing their individual programs.

Some states can put programs in place with agency regulations. Others will have to go through their state legislatures. That will test voters’ appetites to pay for their climate pollution. (VOA)