Editorial 1: Moving away from the ‘take-make-dispose’ model


  • Recognising the need to switch from the ‘take-make-dispose’ to ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’ model, India has prioritised ‘Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy’ as one of the three core themes for deliberations in the G-20 forum.

Circular economy

  • A Circular Economy is the one where products are designed for durability, reuse and recyclability and thus almost everything gets reused, remanufactured, and recycled into a raw material or used as a source of energy.
  • It includes 6 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refurbishment, Recover, and Repairing of materials.
  • India has embraced four priority areas for the circular economy during its G-20 presidency: circularity in the steel sector; Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR); circular bioeconomy and establishing an industry-led resource efficiency and circular economy industry coalition.
  • There is now heightened recognition of resource efficiency and circular economy strategies within the G-20 community.

Moving to a circular steel sector

  • Most G-20 member countries have committed to net zero ambitions and are working to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Given the crucial role of steel in infrastructure development, its efficient utilisation is important.
  • The demand for steel is poised to grow especially in growing economies such as India.
  • Globally, about 7% of energy sector emission is attributed to iron and steel production.
  • Transitioning towards a circular steel sector is a key strategy to tackle steel sector emissions.
  • The key lies in ensuring collaboration among the G-20 member countries for knowledge sharing, technology co-development and technology transfer.
  • Under India’s G-20 presidency, there is an emphasis on the significance of the EPR framework in integrating circularity throughout the value chain.

Recycling, a bioeconomy and biofuels

  • Effective implementation of EPR plays a pivotal role in promoting the growth of the recycling infrastructure and establishing a streamlined waste collection system.
  • With over 20,000 registered Producers, Importers, and Brand Owners (PIBOs) and over 1,900 plastic waste processors on the centralised EPR portal, India boasts one of the largest frameworks for EPR.
  • India has also notified comprehensive rules for e-waste and battery waste management.
  • Biowaste such as municipal and industrial waste and agricultural residue has become a global issue as much of it is burned, causing pollution, biodiversity loss and global warming.
  • Combined with crops well-suited for degraded lands, biowaste can serve as valuable primary raw materials and viable substitutes for mineral resources.
  • Adopting a circular bioeconomy approach will reduce the need for extracting virgin resources and provide an effective waste disposal solution.

Government initiatives

  • The Government of India has been working towards the adoption of biofuels. The Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana provides financial support to integrated bio-ethanol projects to set up second generation (2G) ethanol projects.
  •  2G bioethanol technology produces bioethanol from waste feedstock such as crop residues and municipal solid waste that would otherwise have no value.
  • Additionally, India has also made it mandatory for coal-burning thermal power plants to use a 5% blend of biomass pellets along with coal.
  • The Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources (GOBAR) Dhan scheme was launched by the Government of India to convert cattle dung and other organic waste into compost, biogas, and biofuels to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce pollution.
  • With over 500 functional biogas plants, the scheme has also helped create rural livelihoods and ensured improved sanitation.
  • The Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) Scheme, launched in 2018 to promote the use of Compressed BioGas (CBG) as an alternative green transportation fuel, has aided the bioenergy sector by accelerating the development of infrastructure for the production, storage and distribution of CBG.

Way forward

  • As industries are crucial in advancing resource efficiency and circular economy practices, India has envisioned an industry coalition in these areas.
  • The coalition will also aim to achieve enhanced technological collaboration, build advanced capabilities across sectors, mobilise de-risked finance, and facilitate a proactive private sector engagement.


  • Global platforms such as the G-20 play an important role in addressing key issues and presenting solutions by adopting a collaborative approach. Resource efficiency and circular economy have emerged as key solutions in collective efforts in tackling triple planetary challenges.

Editorial 2: Himachal floods: a man-made disaster?


  • Flash floods during this year’s monsoon season have caused unprecedented damage to both lives and assets in Himachal Pradesh. Although climate change is expected to have played a hand in causing the high precipitation leading to these flash floods, human induced disasters resulting from planned development have played a significant role in causing such colossal losses.

Climate change

  • The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) VI report has clearly stated that the Himalayas and coastal regions of India will be the hardest hit by climate change.
  • In the Himalayas, there is a noticeable pattern of increased precipitation occurring in shorter periods of time.
  • This year, the precipitation so far has been attributed to the combined effect of the south-west monsoon with western disturbances. The total rainfall from June to date was 511 mm.

Reworking of the development model

  • Apart from climate change, anthropogenic factors have also significantly contributed to the disaster.
  • The State’s development model initiated after it came into being in 1971 had been successful in transforming Himachal Pradesh into an exemplar of development for mountain States.
  • This model, known as the Dr. Parmar model, focused on exemplary land reforms, robust state-led investment in social welfare, and a strong emphasis on human resources.
  • However, the advent of liberalisation led to significant changes, with the Central government demanding stringent fiscal reforms and mountain States being forced to generate their own resources for fiscal management.
  •  The exploitation of natural resources, including forests, water, tourism, and cement production, became a major focus for development.

Building hydropower projects

  • The pursuit of hydropower projects became a dominant focus for hill States, with their capacity measured in terms of megawatts (MW) to attract investments.
  • One of the main reasons for the devastating impact of floods in the region is the uncontrolled construction of these hydropower projects, which have essentially transformed mountain rivers into mere streams.
  • The technology employed, known as “run of the river” dams, diverts water through tunnels burrowed into the mountains, and the excavated material (muck) is often disposed of along the riverbeds.
  • During periods of higher precipitation or cloudbursts, the water returns to the river, carrying the dumped muck along with it.
  • This destructive process is evident in rivers like Parvati, Beas and Sutlej, as well as many other small hydropower dams.
  • Moreover, long tunnels spanning 150 km have been planned or commissioned on the Sutlej river causing significant harm to the entire ecosystem.

Impacts of tourism

  • The development-driven road expansion is aimed at promoting tourism and attracting a large number of visitors.
  •  The road-widening projects, often carried out by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), involve transforming two-lane roads into four-lane roads and single lanes into two- lane roads.
  • The development model follows a public-private-partnership (PPP) approach, emphasising the need to complete these projects rapidly.
  • However, this has resulted in bypassing essential geological studies and mountain engineering skills.
  • Traditionally, mountainous regions are not cut with vertical slits but are terraced, minimising the damage to the environment.
  • Unfortunately, in both the four-lane projects in Manali and Shimla, the mountains have been cut vertically, leading to massive landslides and damage to existing roads.
  • Restoring these roads after such disasters is a time-consuming process, often taking months or even years.
  • The consequences of such road expansions are evident during even normal rainfall, as it leads to slips and slides, amplifying the magnitude of the destruction during heavy rain or floods.
  • The establishment of massive cement plants have resulted in significant land use changes that contribute to flash floods during rainfall.
  • The cement plants alter the natural landscape, and the removal of vegetation leads to reduced capacity of land to absorb water.


  • Commission of Inquiry must be instituted to bring the major stakeholders — the people — on board and discuss both the policy framework failures, as well as the peculiar aspects of the projects undertaken.
  • A new architecture is required to empower local communities over their assets.
  • The losses faced in the forms of culverts, village drains, small bridges, schools, other social infrastructure must be compensated; and this can be done if the assets are insured and the custodians are local communities.
  • This will help to rebuild the assets quicker.


  • With climate change a reality, humans should not add to the problem, but make adequate changes in infrastructure planning to avert disasters.


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