New Delhi: “No material is waste and no person is waste. It is depending upon the appropriate technology and vision of the leadership that you can convert waste into wealth,” said Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, at the launch of NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India Season 10 launch. Mr Gadkari, has been a long standing supporter of Banega Swasth India, since its launch in 2014. At the launch of season 10 with Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana, Mr Gadkari talked about the vision of building a clean India.
Building a connection between environment and health and the need to focus on it, Mr Gadkari said,
The three important pillars of our society are – ethics, economy and ecology and environment. Air, water and sound pollution are having very serious consequences on our health. The study, done in cities like Delhi, shows that our life has been reduced by 10 years due to pollution. My suggestion would be that we harness the power of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), which was started by Mahatma Gandhi and promoted by PM Narendra Modi, and create value out of garbage.
Mr Gadkari shared examples of reusing and recycling waste into useful products. For instance, in Mathura, a project to treat 90 MLD (millions of litres per day) of sludge water was started under the hybrid annuity, where treated wastewater was supplied to Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s Mathura Refinery. Similarly, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has been selling treated sewage water for power generation.
Further emphasising on creating value out of waste, Mr Gadkari shared the plan in place for Gandhi Jayanti, celebrated on October 2. He said,
We are launching a National Policy with regard to the use of solid waste in the making of the roads. We will extract rubber powder from waste tyres and put it in Bitumen, a thick, black crude oil. Rubber powder is priced at Rs. 30 kg and Bitumen at Rs. 50 kg. We will benefit from rubberised Bitumen; the quality will improve. We require 80 lakh tonnes of Bitumen – 50 lakh tonnes is provided by Indian Refinery and the remaining 30 lakh tonnes is imported. If we are able to generate 15 per cent rubber bitumen then imports will be reduced.
The Road Transport and Highways minister said that India is producing bio bitumen from rice straw. Farmers will become energy and bitumen givers along with food providers, he added.
There is also a project to generate ethanol from carbon dioxide. Gradually, by using technology to create value from the waste and pollution-causing elements, we can build a healthy nation.
Mr Gadkari envisions a country free of petrol and diesel. But, to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030, is it viable for India to get rid of petrol? Mr Gadkari said,
While India imports fossil fuels worth Rs. 16 lakh crore, we have not yet been able to create an economy of biofuel worth even Rs. 2 lakh crore. The biggest problem of the farmers of our country is that sugar surplus, corn surplus, wheat surplus and rice surplus – our Minimum Support Price (MSP) is high whereas, the market price is low and in such a situation there is a diversification of agriculture towards energy and power sector. Secondly, 40 per cent of the pollution in the country is caused by the transport sector – petrol, diesel and fossil fuels.
The Minister said that his intention is to free the country from petrol and diesel. Though it is difficult, but not impossible. He added,
Electric cars, electric scooters, auto-rickshaws and electric buses have become popular over time. We will soon have electric trucks. We are also exploring a way to run electric trolley buses. Toyota has launched a 100 per cent ethanol-powered vehicle. I use a hydrogen-powered car. I believe we have a sea full of alternatives – ethanol, methanol, bio-diesel, bio-LNG (liquefied natural gas), bio-CNG and electric. Despite this, we won’t stop using petrol.
Mr Gadkari is hopeful that a few years down the line, the cost of lithium-ion batteries will decline from $150 per kilowatt per hour to $100. It is already down to $115. This will bring down the cost of electric cars to the level of petrol-run cars. He added,
A liter of petrol costs you Rs. 120 whereas, electric cars require Rs. 6-8 per unit of electricity, making them cost-effective. Similarly, Ethanol, a green fuel (made from corn and other plant materials) is being produced by farmers. It is swadeshi (domestically produced product), a concept advocated by Mahatma Gandhi, and also helps generate employment in rural India.
Sharing his green vision, Mr Gadkari said,
A day will come when there will be no petrol and diesel pumps. Instead, we will have ethanol pumps and charging stations for electric vehicles; LNG and CNG will be prepared from stubble. Currently, 185 projects are underway in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to produce bio-CNG and bio-LNG from stubble.
Further sharing his thoughts on the Banega Swasth India campaign and how it is creating awareness to build swachh (clean) and swasth (healthy) India, Mr Gadkari said,
Programmes like ‘Swachh India’ and ‘Accident-free India’ cannot be accomplished without the support of the citizens. The purpose of your campaign is to educate people about the importance of building a clean and healthy India and sharing alternatives with them. You do it annually and that makes me happy.
While signing off, Mr Gadkari said that Mahatma Gandhi’s and PM Modi’s dream of a Clean India will gradually be fulfilled by using technology, providing education and training, and by making people aware of the practice of cleanliness. He said,
You are doing the same – training and educating people in this direction. This is the biggest achievement of your campaign.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.