The World Environment Day has grown to become a global platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, global warming and sustainable consumption. 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. Indian Navy conducted the World Environment Day this year adhering to the lockdown measures in force. Educational awareness programs, lectures and webinars were conducted 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 IOCL 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 is 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 set up 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 year, over 16,500 trees have been planted which would mitigate an estimated 330 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide.
Community participation has played a major role in the implementation of these initiatives. Successful institution of green measures in the Navy has been possible through a self-conscious Naval community, well-aware of the necessity of environmental remediation and energy conservation. To foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment, various mass participation events such as mass ‘Shramdan’, coastal clean ship drives etc are organized regularly. Further, a trophy introduced to recognise the unit adopting the best green practices for the year has proved useful in encouraging units to embrace Green initiatives.
Overall, the Indian Navy has maintained a steadfast focus towards sustainable future while integrating energy efficiency and environmental conservation within its operational and strategic roles.