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Sunday, August 1, 2010

National Programme on Improved Chullhas (NPIC)

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Lots of pollutants are produced by burning wood and other biomass like dung cakes and agricultural wastes in traditional Chullhas (wood stoves) in rural areas. On the other hand, lots of wood is burnt to produce very less calories .Thus wood and energy both are wasted due to incomplete combustion.

In view of conservation of wood fuel and reduction of smoke from the kitchens of rural India, the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources(MNES), Government of India, launched a National Programme on Improved Chullhas(NPIC) during 1984- 85. The improved Chullhas are wood stoves designed through research in order to conserve fire wood and protect rural ladies against the ill effects of fumes and gases that come out while wood and other biomass is burnt during cooking. The traditional Chullhas have an efficiency of only 8 to 10 percent whereas improved Chullhas have a minimum thermal efficiency of 20 to 25 per cent. Thus, an improved chullha produces more energy and consumes less wood without producing too much ash and smoke. In order to ensure quality and durability of smokeless Chullhas, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has introduced ISI marking scheme on these Chullhas.About 35.2 million improved Chullhas have been distributed in rural homes of India so far.

“Cooking over an open fire means that people are exposed to wood smoke, which irritates their eyes and lungs and makes them susceptible to respiratory diseases. It is estimated that 1.6 million people, mainly women and children, die every year as a result of the smoke from wood stoves. There is also a risk of burns to children, as the fire has no protection around it. Using wood for cooking also contributes to deforestation, in particular around cities and towns, where the concentrated use of wood puts pressure on the surrounding land.

People using improved stoves save time as they need to collect less firewood; a task which usually falls to women and children. The extra time allows women to take up other activities including earning extra money, and allows children more time for education. Family members are reported to be more willing to help with the cooking once they have a smoke-free place in which to work”.
To quote an article of the Worldwatch Institute –
India revealed a program today to provide efficient cooking stoves to rural areas in an effort to reduce air pollution and a major contributor to climate change. 

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced the National Biomass Cook-stoves Initiative, a series of pilot projects that seeks to improve stove efficiency for individual households.

The program, if implemented properly, could provide a quick solution to short-lived pollutants that contribute to the greenhouse gas effect and are responsible for millions of premature deaths across India.

The government has not yet established targets for implementing the cookstove program. "We are trying to put together a plan first and test it out because we don't want to set up targets right at the outset and then not be able to meet them," said Shyam Saran, the prime minister's special envoy on climate change, according to the P.T.I. An estimated 826 million Indians depend on simple cook stoves that burn solid fuel, mainly fuelwood or coal. When households are filled with smoke from inefficient stoves, the toxic soot can increase the risks of developing pneumonia, cataracts, and tuberculosis.

More-efficient biomass stoves can reduce India's climate impact as well. When soot settles on light-colored snow or ice, less sunlight is reflected into space. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its 2007 assessment that soot, also referred to as black carbon, is one of the most potent greenhouse pollutants. Eliminating black carbon could quickly limit global warming due to the short period of time the particles remain in the atmosphere, the international science body said.

India revealed its improved stove plan in time for the United Nations Climate Change Summit ,, in Copenhagen, Denmark, this month, where negotiators hope to agree on a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol. India also recently announced efforts to boost domestic solar power, , improve energy efficiency, and reforest large areas of countryside. 
But the government is interested less in emissions reductions and more in the potential for efficient stoves to improve the health of rural residents, said Kirk Smith, a visiting environmental health  professor at the Chandigarh-based Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research

"India sees [improved stoves] as a social and health development priority. Climate is the icing on the cake," said Smith, who has researched methods to distribute improved wood stoves in India through his full-time position at the University of California at Berkley. A Public Health Study of benefits from greenhouse gas reductions in India, released last month in the British medical journal The Lancet, estimates that 15 million improved stoves distributed every year for the next decade would supply 87 percent of households across India.
Such a program would avoid 17 percent of the premature deaths and disability from respiratory infections, heart disease, and bronchitis that would have occurred in 2020, saving some 55.5 million years of healthy life that would otherwise be lost from air pollution exposure, the study found.

"The No. 1 illness among Indian children is acute respiratory disease," said Roger Glass, associate director for international research at the U.S.National Institute of Health, at the launch of The Lancet study. "While we can do some things with vaccines, there are some nice synergies between reducing air pollution and acute respiratory disease."

Improved cook stoves could also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 0.5-1 billion tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent gases, notably methane, black carbon, and carbon monoxide, would be avoided, according to the study, led by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of California at Berkeley, and University College London.

"It seems on the face as a no-brainer," said Nafees Meah, head of science for the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change. "Early action benefits India more than most countries."

Previous improved cookstove programs in India and elsewhere have often failed, however - either because households were not properly trained on how to use the new technologies, or because adapting to the new stoves required users to change their traditional cooking methods.

"You can't drop a stove into a household and walk away," said Rita Colwell, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Maryland at College Park and former director of the U.S. National Science Foundation  You need to do follow-up. You need implementation."

About one-third of the world burns wood and other biomass for cooking, heating, and lighting, accounting for 13 percent of global energy consumption. When burned in traditional cooking stoves, the toxic emissions result in 1.6 million premature deaths each year, according to World Health Organisation estimates. Children younger than five account for half of the fatalities

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