On World Environment Day, June 05, 2020, the Indian Navy informed how it has maintained a steadfast focus towards sustainable future while integrating energy efficiency and environment conservation within its operational and strategic roles.
As a responsible multi-dimensional force, maintaining one of its priorities as environment protection and green initiatives, the Indian Navy has embarked on reducing its environmental footprint through energy conservation, minimising marine pollution and use of alternative sources of energy. The ‘Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap’ (INECR) has been the guiding document and key enabler for progressively achieving this vision of the Indian Navy to add a green footprint to its blue water operations.
With World Environment Day having grown to become a global platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, global warming and sustainable consumption, Indian Navy while adhering to the lockdown measures in force, conducted educational awareness programs, lectures and webinars over electronic media in Naval stations in lieu of the otherwise regular outdoor activities.
With the aim of reducing pollution from engine exhausts, the Indian Navy collaborated with Indian Oil Corporation Limited to revise the fuel specifications. The new specification surpasses international norms and includes reduced sulphur content which in the long run will reduce emissions levels as well as maintenance requirements onboard. Whilst recognising the significance of biodiversity, which incidentally is the theme for World Environment Day-2020, ample emphasis is being accorded within the Navy in protecting ocean ecology.
Indian Navy has voluntarily implemented all six schedules of International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) regulations. All Naval ships have been fitted with MARPOL compliant pollution control equipment such as Oily Water Separators (OWS) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) for treating waste generated onboard. Further, to ensure upkeep of harbour waters, accelerated bioremediation technology has also been developed through Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), Mumbai.
In efforts to reduce carbon footprint, measures have been brought in force for a steady increase in utilisation of e-vehicles such as e-cycles, e-trolley and e-scooters. As a long term strategy, it is being planned to gradually reduce the usage of fossil-fuel based vehicles during working hours through use of e-vehicles or bicycles. To promote the same, units observe ‘No Vehicle Days’ regularly and the concept of a ‘Vehicle Free Base’ is also being introduced in some Naval establishments.
An ongoing area of focus within the Navy, is the reduction of overall power consumption through a progressive induction of energy efficient equipment. Substantial efforts have yielded a near-complete transition from conventional lighting to more energy efficient solid-state lighting. Other notable energy saving measures incorporated across Indian Navy establishments include use of capacitor banks to maintain high power factor, use of transparent acrylic sheet roofs to harness natural light, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) based electricity metering for effective monitoring, use of occupancy sensors, sky-pipes and turbo-ventilators in workshop floors, to name a few.
In line with emerging trends and Govt of India policy, efforts have also been made in the Navy to enhance the share of renewable energy. 24 MW of Solar Photo Voltaic projects are at various stages of implementation in the Navy’s shore establishments. In addition, individual units have also installed solar powered appliances which have progressively replaced conventional equipment.
All Naval units have adopted aggressive waste handling processes for collection, segregation and subsequent handling as per GoI Green norms. An Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility (ISWMF) is being setup at Naval station, Karwar, which includes a centralised waste segregation plant, Organic Waste Converter (OWC) for wet waste and a facility to handle dry/ unsegregated domestic waste. Green Initiatives of the Navy have also been augmented by afforestation and plantation drives. In the past one year, over 16,500 trees have been planted which would mitigate an estimated 330 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide.
Successful institution of green measures in the Navy has been possible through a self-conscious Naval community, well-aware of the necessity of environment remediation and energy conservation. To foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment, various mass participation events such as mass ‘shramdan’, coastal cleanliness drives etc are organized regularly. Further, a trophy introduced to recognise the unit adopting best green practices for the year, has proved useful in encouraging units to adopt green initiatives.
Southern Naval Command (SNC) observed World Environment Day with emphasis on ‘Biodiversity’. Adhering to social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols, at Kochi, more than 3500 saplings of different varieties were presented to SNC by Dr Meenakshi, Conservator of Forests and planted by the participants, including Navy Wives and Navy School children. A ‘Clean-up’ drive with emphasis on removal of plastic waste inside Naval Base and surrounding areas was also undertaken, including cleaning the Venduruthy channel, of the non-biodegradable items. Similar events were also conducted at other outstation naval units located at Ezhimala, Coimbatore, Goa, Jamnagar in Gujrat, Lonavla in Maharashtra, Chilka in Odisha and Malad at Mumbai. In addition, coastal cleanup was also undertaken at Fort Kochi. The ban on plastic was reiterated and the children present, took a pledge to use only biodegradable carry bags.
The writer is editor WordSword Features. He is also a strategic analyst and former spokesperson, Defence Ministry and Indian Army, and can be contacted at wordsword02@gmail.