According to reports, Calcutta high court on Tuesday directed all civic bodies in West Bengal, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), to ensure that all highrises install solar panels on their roofs within the next four months.
The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission also recommended more dependence on renewable sources of energy. The court also directed the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) to ensure that all power utilities in the state generate or purchase at least 10% of their capacity from green sources.
The high court bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi was hearing a PIL moved by green crusader Subhas Datta in December 2009, in which he had claimed that the state has not made much progress in the use of renewable energy. He pointed out that nearly 97% of power used in West Bengal comes from coal and this is taking a heavy toll on the environment.
“The West Bengal Municipal Act, 1993, mandates that all buildings 14.5 metres in height or higher (about four-storied high), need to install solar panels on their roofs. Similarly, the KMC Act, 1980, also makes it clear that all buildings 15.5 metres (about five-storied high) in height or higher need to have solar panels on the roofs. I pointed out to the court that even the residence of the chief justice of Delhi HC has solar panels on its roof. But here, leave alone private buildings, even government ones don’t abide by the rules. After hearing this, the court directed all civic bodies in West Bengal to ensure that the structures install solar panels on their roofs within four months,” Datta said.
He also submitted that the WBERC is supposed to ensure that all power utilities generate or purchase at least 10% of their capacity from renewable sources. “Unfortunately, the figure is as less as 0.5% in West Bengal. A certain power utility that operates in West Bengal uses coal for generation in this state, but sets up solar power plants in Rajasthan,” Datta submitted.
The court then directed WBERC to take necessary steps within three months. The court also directed the state government to build up awareness against the use of coal as a source of power. The government was also directed not to impose direct or indirect taxes on solar panels or other equipment relating to renewable energy.