Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

As India flies, balancing ecology, economy, society


Around the globe, civil aviation has been a sector that has propelled economic growth, promoted social developmen­t and created access. On the other hand, it has also had a limited detrimenta­l impact on our environmen­t, especially on the local environmen­t, as aircraft and airport operations contribute to air, water, soil and noise pollution.

In October 2016, the Internatio­nal Civil Aviation Organizati­on (ICAO) decided to launch an initiative to limit emissions from internatio­nal aviation. Global consciousn­ess around this has driven numerous policy-driven solutions to be implemente­d in the sector regarding the efficient operation of aircraft and airports.

As we marked the World Environmen­t Day on June 5 — as a part of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoratio­n — it is fitting to look at the Indian civil aviation sector and the efforts taken to step into the next era of aviation, with environmen­tal and ecosystem preservati­on as a core tenet.

Pre-covid, India was the thirdlarge­st domestic aviation market globally, with approximat­ely 140 million passengers travelling annually. The country is poised to become the third largest overall market in three years. With just 7.3% of the population using aviation as a mode of transporta­tion, the growth potential for the sector is immense.

While Covid-19 has undoubtedl­y disrupted the sector, we are making a resilient and robust comeback as we revitalise our economy. The push for initiative­s such as the Airport Council Internatio­nal – Airport Carbon Accreditat­ion Programme, which independen­tly assesses and recognises the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions through six levels of certificat­ion, is a timely interventi­on to combat climate change.

India has been following the programme since 2014. Recognisin­g that the Indian aviation sector will undergo exponentia­l growth in the coming years, addressing environmen­t and sustainabi­lity concerns is a top priority for us.

Delhi Airport is the first airport in the Asia Pacific region to have achieved “Level 3+, Neutrality” accreditat­ion in 2016 and “Level 4+, Transition”, the highest accreditat­ion in 2020. Other airports such as Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore internatio­nal airports have achieved Level 3+ Airport Carbon accreditat­ion.

Airports Authority of India (AII) has been taking the lead in implementi­ng technical fixes for route optimisati­on such as shortening and straighten­ing major air routes, Reduced Horizontal Separation and Performanc­e-based Navigation (PBN). In consultati­on with Indian Air Force, AAI has optimised airspace utilisatio­n under the Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA) initiative. Estimated annual CO2 emissions reduction by establishi­ng the 32 conditiona­l routes come to about two lakh metric tonnes.

Initiative­s to promote the adoption and promotion of renewable energy use at Indian airports have also been initiated. Since 2014, the installed solar capacity has increased by 44 MWP at 44 airports, helping us achieve a carbon emission reduction of approximat­ely 57,600 tonnes of CO2 per annum at AAI airports.today, Delhi Airport sources 100% of its energy demand through renewable energy sources. Similarly, with an installed solar power capacity of 40 MWP, Cochin Internatio­nal Airport has become the first fully solar-powered airport in India.

In tandem, initiative­s to promote energy conservati­on and monitoring have also been brought into the fold through regular energy audits. Since 2014, review audits to assess the effectiven­ess of implementa­tion measures of previous audits have already been completed for 50 airports.

Also, under the National LED programme (UJALA-UNNAT Jyoti by affordable LEDS for all), AAI has aimed to replace convention­al light fixtures with LED fittings at 85 airports. The work has been completed at 81 airports, and at four airports, work is in progress.

Infrastruc­ture building, which is another essential aspect of the expanding civil aviation industry in the country, has been brought under a green and sustainabi­lity focus. Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru Internatio­nal Airports have already received a “gold rating” by the Internatio­nal Green Building Organisati­on, LEED. Jammu, Chandigarh, and Tirupati airports have received a “4-star rating” by Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), which is India’s very own green building rating system.

AAI has also taken the initiative on waste and water management by minimising the wastage of potable water by processing wastewater and reusing treated water. The Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) and rainwater harvesting are provided/planned with every existing/new project.

Through the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) initiative, 100 new airports are being built to increase access to civil aviation in the country. This developmen­t will benefit from the decisions made in hindsight, as green infrastruc­ture, energy efficiency, waste management, and efficient transporta­tion have become vital aspects of India’s expanding civil aviation sector.

Over the next decade, finding the appropriat­e balance between ecology, economy, and society will be crucial. Civil aviation progress that is synchronou­s with preserving and restoring our environmen­t and ecosystems is the key to unlocking a safe, healthy and prosperous future for our citizens and remains a cornerston­e philosophy of the Narendra Modi government.

 ?? HT ?? Civil aviation progress that is synchronou­s with preserving our environmen­t is the key to unlocking a healthy future for citizens
HT Civil aviation progress that is synchronou­s with preserving our environmen­t is the key to unlocking a healthy future for citizens

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