National Green Tribunal, New Delhi (NGT): The Bench of Adarsh Kumar Goel, J(Chairperson) and Sudhir Agarwal, J (Judicial Member) and Prof. A. Senthil Vel (Expert Member) took suo moto cognizance based on media report titled “Times's running out; Is India ready to handle 34,000 tonnes of Solar Waste by 2030?” highlighting the need for formulation of a sound solar waste management policy in India.

Upcoming Catastrophe

In the climate summit at Glasgow (COP26), Prime Minister, Narendra Modi announced that India would generate 40% of its installed energy capacity from non-fossil sources (solar, wind, hydro, biomass and nuclear) by 2030. The Government, thereafter, set an ambitious target installing renewable energy capacity of about 450 GW (Gigawatts) by 2030 in which its solar target is 280 GW (over 60%).

But as it is rightly said “with great power comes great responsibility”, with an ambitious target comes responsibility of tackling with solar waste, i.e. the electronic waste generated by discarded solar panels, which is going to increase by at least 4-5 fold by the next decade.

Therefore, it is high time that India should formulate a sound solar waste management policy as it has none.

NGT's Take

Noting the serious problem which India will face in future, NGT vide order dated 14.02.2022, directed the constitution of Joint Committee comprising of Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC), and Secretary, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE). Further, the MoEF & CC will be the Nodal agency for coordination and compliance.

Accordingly, a report dated 17.05.2022 was filed by MoEF&CC suggesting an action plan with phase wise steps to enable environmentally sound management of solar panel waste, after it was directed to prepare an Action Plan with regards to environmentally sound management of solar panel waste in accordance with the laid down norms.

Disposing the application, the Tribunal suggested that MoEF&CC may finalise further action in the matter, preferably within two months.

[In re: Article Published in the magazine i.e Down to earth dated 13 January 2022 Under the Title Time’s running out : Is India ready to handle 34,600 tonnes of Solar waste by 2030, Original Application No.112/2022, order dated 19.07.2022]

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