Smokeless Villages IndianOil’s Pioneering Initiative
Today, the world is striving to achieve three sustainable energy goals — universal access to energy, doubling of renewable energy share, and doubling the gains of energy efficiency. Access to clean, efficient cooking fuels and devices is one of the main priorities of the push towards universal energy access.
Nearly 2.9 billion people worldwide still use polluting fuels like firewood and coal for cooking and heating, at a huge detriment to society in terms of health as well as environmental and economic costs, estimated at over US$ 123 billion every year.
These numbers underline the urgent need to accelerate the adoption of clean, efficient cooking fuels that can improve the life of millions, prevent premature deaths and help reach sustainable energy goals by 2030, according to a new report released at the second Sustainable Energy for All Forum (SE4All) in New York on May 19, 2015.
One of the many ways to achieve the global target of providing universal access to energy is by transitioning to the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) as cooking fuel in kitchens. Clean cooking cuts across many sectors — health, gender, environment, technology, poverty and energy.
Mr. B Ashok, Chairman, IndianOil, who is also the Vice-President of the World LPG Forum based in Paris, reaffirmed the commitment of IndianOil to fulfill the women’s rights to sustainable access to clean energy. This led to the creation of “Mission Smokeless Village.”
In an exclusive brainstorming session held on November 2, 2015, on “Rural LPG Penetration: Indoor Pollution – LPG A Solution’, Chairman addressed a team of 20 lady officers of IndianOil from looking after the LPG function at the State Offices, Area Offices and field locations and shared the idea of formulating a mission to spread the use of LPG in rural markets.
The brainstorming session was steered by Dr. Kirk R Smith, Professor of Global Environmental Health, University of California, an expert who is known for his work on fighting indoor air pollution. The idea to adopt a village and make it smokeless by promoting the use of LPG was floated by the group at the end of the programme. This idea was firmed up and conceptualised on November 20, 2015, during the Chairman’s Panel Meet, attended by a significant number of Indane LPG distributors from across the country. Thus “Mission Smokeless Village” commenced its journey at IndianOil.
On November 28, IndianOil declared the first smokeless village in Karnataka. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge), MoPNG tweeted, “My compliments to the residents of Vychakurahalli village, which is declared as the first smokeless village in India. The village has 100 per cent households with LPG connections, a great example set by the villagers on the eve of COP21 global summit on climate change; [we] need many more such villages.”
Ever since, IndianOil’s LPG group and its LPG distributor network have been promoting this initiative with missionary zeal. After Vyachakurahalli village in Karnataka, Govindpura under IndianOil’s Ahmedabad Area Office (AO) became the first “smokeless village” in Gujarat, followed by Village Kazi Basai, under Gwalior AO of Madhya Pradesh State Office. Field officers, along with distributors, visited the adopted villages to assess the LPG penetration and the level of efforts required to convert the villages to 100 per cent LPG usage.
Under Patna AO, 10 villages have been adopted by IndianOil officers. Two villages have been turned smokeless – Purakothi in Kaler Block of Arwal District and Panrepur, Shahpur Block, Bhojpur District. The concept received wide coverage in Bihar and is special for the State due to the fact that the overall industry penetration for domestic LPG is only about 35 per cent in the State. Bihar State Office (BSO) has already put in place plans to bring more villages under the ‘smokeless’ status by the end of the financial year and is targeting a village panchayat (covering a population of more than 8000) to make it smokeless.
At IndianOil’s Karnataka State Office (KaSO), a WhatsApp group was formed and was named as ‘Hogerahita Grama’ meaning ‘smokeless village’ in Kannada. This was the platform for sharing and exchanging information about the adopted villages. It was a huge success because Team KaSO could stay tightly connected and its members could share their experience and exchange notes on the progress in real-time, which helped in fast-tracking the campaign process significantly. On December 15, 2015, KaSO declared about 60 villages smokeless.
Adoption of a village for making it as “Smokeless Village” is a voluntary initiative. The scheme encourages LPG officers as well as distributors to adopt a village and work towards converting it into a ‘Smokeless Village.” By the end of March 2016, more than 3,400 villages across India have benefited from this voluntary effort. ■