Rajya Sabha members pick holes in Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022
New Delhi: Opposition members in the Rajya Sabha on Monday picked holes in the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, saying it encroaches upon the jurisdiction of the Environment Ministry and the government should have brought the legislation after consultation through a standing committee of Parliament.
The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha for passage on December 8, 2022 by Power Minister R K Singh. It seeks to promote the use of non-fossil fuels, including ethanol, green hydrogen and biomass. It is also aimed at helping the country achieve its international commitments on climate change.
The legislation was cleared by the Lok Sabha during the Monsoon Session in August this year.
The amendments also seek to promote development of a domestic carbon market to battle climate change.
Taking part in the discussion on the Bill, P Wilson (DMK) said, “If observed accurately, the proposed Bill majorly concerns the environmental aspects which fall to the expertise of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.”
By making the Ministry of Power as the nodal agency, he said, the Bill “is acting without jurisdiction and usurping the power of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.”
Wilson further said the Bill has a “lot of legal infirmities” and it “requires reconsideration and reintroduction”.
Sandeep Kumar Pathak (AAP) also pointed out that while it is a “futuristic Bill”, it has many issues which needed to be addressed.
Pointing out to provisions on carbon credit trading, he asked why it has come from the power ministry and not from the environment ministry or the renewable energy ministry.
“There is a clear cut conflict of purpose and conflict of interest…it should be better fixed with environment ministry,” Pathak added.
Similarly, Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) said there is a domain conflict and the Bill would have been better than its present form had it been introduced after taking wider inputs through consultation with a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
He also said it is not clear who will be responsible for carbon credit certificates and who will regulate it.
The bill also provides for penalties for violations by industrial units or vessels as well as on manufacturers if a vehicle fails to comply with fuel consumption norms.
Shaktisinh Gohil (Congress) said had the Bill had gone to the standing committee, it would have been much better.
Binoy Viswam (CPI) urged the government to refer the Bill to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, arguing that it needs to be improved with several changes.
Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena said it is the “need of the hour that we look towards energy conservation and energy efficiency”.
However, she suggested the jurisdiction should be done through an inter-ministerial group.
V Sivadasan of the CPI (M) alleged that the proposed amendment does not address the issues of common people but is favouring centralisation.
He said carbon trading and energy conservation methods are different from state to state. The Union government must give the right to states for managing the energy conservation methods, he argued.
Abdul Wahab (IUML) said the government should play a proactive role in providing infrastructure for renewable energy sources and carbon trading mechanism instead of putting the whole burden on the private sector, and ultimately the consumers.
The government should financially assist the already existing residential buildings to comply with the norms and reduce their carbon footprint, he added.
While supporting the Bill, S Niranjan Reddy of the YSRCP highlighted the lack of a regulator for carbon trading, cautioning that this could leave a loophole.
“We have now come across in the carbon market in the world, where companies are resorting to methods called as green washing, which means without actually resorting to saving of energy, they project a false picture of energy being saved,” he said.
Ashok Bajpai (BJP) highlighted the challenges around the global warming scenario and enumerated measures taken by the government to combat climate change.
“This Bill has to be altered fundamentally to see that measures to reduce carbon usage should be the main point to be attended,” he suggested.
Satish Chandra Dubey (BJP) supported the Bill and listed the Centre’s achievements in the field of energy conservation and power sector reforms.
Other members, including Birendra Prasad Baishya (AGP), Ram Chander Jangra (BJP) and Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba (BJP), also supported the Bill.