Saksham campaign and the importance of fuel conservation – Explained Pointwise

Introduction

Recently, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas launched the month-long fuel conservation awareness campaign Saksham. Fuel conservation has become highly important in the present scenario. On the one hand, the petrol prices are for the first time, touching Rs. 100. On the other hand, India’s oil imports are expected to rise to 90% by 2030 and 92% by 2040, as per the India Energy Outlook report, 2021. In this article, we are going to analyse the needs and ways of fuel conservation in India.

 

What is Saksham Campaign?

It is a month-long awareness campaign launched by the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA). The Saksham campaign aims to create awareness about fossil fuels by highlighting the adverse health and environmental impacts of fossil fuels.

The Saksham campaign will mention the advantages of switching to cleaner fuels and bring in behavioural change to use fossil fuel more intelligently. The campaign will include various pan-India activities such as cyclothon, farmer workshops, seminars etc.

The awareness campaign was started as an Oil Conservation Week in 1991. Later in 1997, the program was converted into an Oil and Gas Conservation Fortnight. From 2017 onwards, it was renamed as “Saksham (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav)” and getting conducted for a month. This year the campaign launched on 16th January 2021.

Other government schemes aimed towards fuel conservation

The government introduced various policies aimed towards fuel conservation. Such as fuel efficiency norms for Heavy Commercial Vehicles and Light and Medium Commercial Vehicles.

  1. LPG Panchayats: This scheme aimed at encouraging rural communities to turn to clean fuels instead of fossil fuels
  2. In the transport sector various other initiatives such as introducing Bharat Stage (BS) standards, fixing the maximum speed of cars, improved road conditions will result in fuel conservation.
  3. Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme: The government in 2003 introduced the EBP program. The programme aims to promote the use of alternative and environment-friendly fuels and reduce import dependency. India has set a target of 10 per cent ethanol blending in petrol by 2022.

Level of fuel usage in India

According to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, India imported 270 Million Metric Ton of crude oil worth $120 billion in 2019-20 alone. The sectors such as transport, industry, household and agriculture are four major sectors that consume the bulk of petroleum.

  1. The transport sector is the largest consumer (50 per cent) of petroleum products in India. They mainly consume petrol and high-speed diesel. Road transport accounts for about 37 per cent of the total oil consumption.
  2. Industries: They consume about 16-20 per cent of the total oil products.
  3. Agriculture sector: High-speed diesel and light diesel oil are the main petroleum products consumed in the agriculture sector. Apart from that, Naphtha is primarily used to produce fertilizers.
  4. Kerosene and LPG are two major oil products used in the domestic sector. It is generally consumed for cooking and heating in urban and semi-urban areas.
High-Speed Diesel (HSD) and Light Diesel Oil (LDO)
HSD is normally used in high-speed diesel engines (runs above 750rpm). Such as commercial vehicles, stationary diesel engines, locomotives, and pumps etc. LDO is used in slow-speed diesel engines (below 750 rpm). Generally, it is used in Lift irrigation pump sets, Diesel Generator (DG) sets etc.

Why do we need to conserve fuel?

  1. Fuel conservation promotes environmental health.  Lower fuel usage will reduce nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, Sulfur dioxide, ozone, and other hydrocarbon emissions. Further fuel conservation will reduce the total energy demand and production,  reduce greenhouse gases, resulting in fewer oil spills, and fewer mining activities. Overall, fuel conservation will reduce the effects of climate change.
  2. Fuel conservation will save money and reduce the oil import bills of India. India Energy Outlook 2021 have mentioned India as the world’s second-biggest net oil importer after China. As per this report, India is currently importing about 76% of its crude oil needs. Fuel conservation will reduce the overall net crude oil imports and save India’s Forex reserves.
  3. Increase in energy sustainability: As fossil fuels like oil are non-renewable and depleting around the globe, its conservation will expand their availability for a longer period of time. Along with the research on alternative energy sources, we can ensure energy sustainability.
  4. Middle Eastern region at present holds 48.3% of global oil reserves. But the region is vulnerable to various conflicts such as the Sunni-Shia conflict, Israel and Arab nations conflict, etc. Fuel conservation will reduce India’s dependence on politically vulnerable Middle Eastern region.
  5. Fuel conservation will help in reducing peak oil demand. Apart from that, shifting towards clean energy alternatives can further reverse the end of the oil age theory.

The end of the oil age is the theory first formulated in 2005. According to it, oil age will end due to the fall in production of oil and its non-replacement along with skyrocketing prices. But the theory was reversed recently after the US Shale gas revolution and the emergence of Electric vehicles after Paris Climate Summit

Suggestions to improve fuel conservation

  1. The government can take numerous initiatives to reduce fuel demand but to see a real change people in India must be educated to reduce fuel consumption voluntarily. Such as
    • Promote use of bicycles for shorter distances
    • Switching off engines in signals
    • Following the sedate driving style and traffic rules etc.
    • Promoting carpooling etc.
  2. Apart from that, the Government has to introduce strict norms for the operation of transport vehicles at optimum speed, implement projects improving road conditions and remove traffic bottlenecks, especially in urban areas. According to a report, these measures alone can save about 30-35 per cent of the fuel.
  3. To reduce the demand for the industrial sector, the government has to encourage better energy management. For example, government initiatives in the iron and steel industry, petrochemicals industries have reduced 21 and 32 percent of their fuel demands.
  4. In the agriculture sector government has to promote better farm machinery, efficient foot valves for lift irrigation, use of agro-residues, and other non-commercial sources of energy. This will reduce the fuel demand in agriculture.
  5. The government has to build a reliable, well-connected, sophisticated public transport system. Such a system must have the potential to cater to the needs of all sections of the society.
  6. To get a complete solution, apart from fuel conservation we also need to shift to clean and green alternative energy sources. For example,

Conclusion

The recent India Energy Outlook report mentions “India’s energy future depends on buildings and factories that India is going to build and the vehicles and appliances India is going to buy”. So it is high time for India to act on fuel conservation and Green energy initiatives to make India’s energy requirements sustainable.

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