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NEW DELHI : Schemes with incentives for production and use of clean energy are needed to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy and designing such schemes will be a priority for NITI Aayog, vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said.

Green transition will be a priority for the federal policy think tank in 2022, Kumar said in an interview. That entails framing schemes that promote the production and use of clean energy and reduce the economy’s carbon footprint.

Incentives to promote clean energy are expected to send a positive signal to producers and users in the market. Waste-to-energy projects and schemes for producing green hydrogen will get policy attention under this initiative. Production of compressed biogas from agricultural or municipal waste is one such scheme that NITI Aayog will design in the current year.

“I would like NITI Aayog to take the lead in making a framework for that," Kumar said. The proposed scheme could offer fiscal incentives on the basis of generation of biogas rather than as capital subsidy for the project, he said.

“If you link it to their performance, which can give them fiscal incentives based on their generation, compressed biogas can change the nature of green transition in a very big way," Kumar said. Basically, it is waste-to-energy scheme using frontline technology, he said.

“The point is that waste-to-energy can be a big deal for India and solve both the problems, one of green transition and two, making India clean. The entire Ghazipur landfill (in Delhi) can be liquidated as has been done in Indore where legacy landfills have been liquidated," he said.

The country wants to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the wake of price rise and reduced supplies, Kumar said. That warrants a massive increase in the supply of green fuel in the economy. Hydrogen as a fuel is very important in this context, Kumar explained, referring to the positive impact it could have on energy-intensive manufacturing industries such as steel, fertilizers, and cement. “NITI Aayog will be very active in this.. We see that as a great future. That is another initiative," Kumar said, adding that the think tank will work closely with the ministry of new and renewable energy. “We will develop schemes for encouraging the transition and expanding production," he said.

Another key area NITI Aayog would be working on is promotion of natural farming, which could help in carbon sequestration, a way of capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for the initiative, the time is ripe for giving a big push to natural farming and to expand it to all the states, Kumar said.

“Already about 30 lakh farmers are practising it in 11 states. The target must be now to reach one crore farmers in the next three years. At the same time, we have to take a very nurturing view of it. You cannot mandate it. That will not work it. You have to build the confidence by handholding," he said.

Modi had set the goal of India achieving net zero emissions by 2070, at a climate summit last year. Natural farming is just the reverse of using chemical fertilizers, which pump out carbon into the atmosphere.

“If you do natural farming, you capture carbon. That is a very big advantage. It also reduces water use by about a fourth at least. You can also grow crops in arid areas," Kumar said.

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