Odisha, India | A roundtable discussion of legislators was organized at the Odisha State Assembly to discuss development through renewable energy in Odisha. Mr Amar Prasad Satpathy (Convenor of the Climate Parliament Odisha chapter) took the initiative to organize this meeting on 6th September, 2017. The objective of the roundtable was to appraise the latest technological, policy and market developments in renewable energy in India, and to discuss potential strategies for advancing renewable energy in the state.
More than 30 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) participated in this meeting. They raised concerns and came up with recommendations for development in the sector. Along with MLAs, the Minister of Finance, Minister of Science and Technology, Minister of School and Mass Education and Minister for Women and Child Development also took part in this roundtable discussion. The Principal Secretary, Science and Technology and Chief Executive OREDA were also present during the discussion and appraised the legislators about the status, progress and future plans for renewable energy development in the state.
Several projects in Odisha have been initiated to address specific environmental and economic issues, as well as to mainstream sustainable development in sectoral planning. The renewable energy policy released in November 2016 contained an ambitious target of implementing 2750 MW (megawatts) of renewable energy by 2022, with around 2200 MW coming from solar sources. Hon’ble Chief Minister has also recently launched a solar rooftop programme where consumers can install these solar systems on their roofs and utilize the solar energy generated.
Discussions mainly revolved around the issues that the legislators have been advocating for as part of the Climate Parliament network, including:
Renewable Energy component to be included in the MLA LAD Fund guideline and specific allocation of resources
Strengthening the functioning of OREDA
Year-wise Renewable Energy target achievement plan
Scope and potential of kerosene subsidy with solar lighting solution
Increasing budgetary allocation for Renewable Energy technology development
Some legislators highlighted that the RE generation target shown in the Renewable Energy Policy is not strategically planned. The Finance Minister emphasized the importance of taking up renewable energy programmes more vigorously in both urban and rural areas, where the role of legislators is very important. He suggested that there should be a specific percentage allocation in the MLA LAD resources with proposed guideline for the use of renewable energy technologies in various projects. He also emphasized that OREDA as an organization should be strengthened so it can implement renewable energy projects in high volume and ensure required quality. The Minister of School and Mass Education said that all schools in rural and semi-urban areas need to be powered with solar energy and connected to the grid. The Minister of Women and Child Development welcomed the idea to add more RE components to the Anganwadi centre functioning. The Science and Technology Minister urged that the state should allocate more resources to enable decentralized RE solutions to become more cost effective and affordable for all.
There was also a detailed discussion about the prospect of swapping kerosene subsidies with solar lighting solutions, which gave rise to concerns and conflicting opinions among the legislators present. It was decided that a pilot survey should be conducted to understand people’s perspective towards this idea, and then a future course of action can be chalked out.
Among other dignitaries, representatives of Climate Parliament Mr Mukul Sharma, Ms Sumedha Basu and Ms Itishree Kanungo, and Ms Shruti Sharma of the International Institute of Sustainable Development were present and discussed different perspectives on renewable energy solutions and low carbon development.
The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by the Convenor of Climate Parliament, Odisha.