India's sustainable goals
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India's approach towards progress is mirrored in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that it has set for itself to emerge as an economically, socially and environmentally strong nation. An important element of the 17 SDGs is the focus on clean and affordable energy. SGDs also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. India, which is a signatory to the SGDs, currently stands 77th on the sustainability index that takes into account per capita carbon emissions, with CO2 levels having crossed 2,000+ million tonnes (MT). It is therefore imperative for India to bolster its efforts towards clean energy and renewable power in line with its commitment to the sustainable development goals. The vision document published by the Government of Assam in 2016 called 'Assam 2030: Our Dream, Our Commitment', was a landmark moment as Assam became the first Indian state to formally adopt SDGs. The government has placed special emphasis on the solar power sector which is evident through the capital infusion of INR 2500 crore towards agencies such as Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), as announced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the Union Budget, 2021.
Over the years, certain states have led the charge towards fulfilling India's goal of achieving 100,000 MW in renewable energy by 2022. Karnataka leads the sector with a total installed solar power capacity of about 7,100 MW, followed by Telangana at 5,000 MW. The other three contributors are Rajasthan at 4,400 MWand Andhra Pradesh at 3,470 MW. However, there is major untapped potential in other regions in India, especially the natural resource rich North-East, that can achieve affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy and consequentially enable its people to lead healthy and prosperous lives.
Aligned to the sustainable development mission of the Government of India, Azure Power, a dedicated solar power company with a journey spanning over a decade and the first private utility solar power company in India to develop a solar plant in 2009, has commissioned various solar power projects to the tune of 1,500 MW+ across the country. Azure Power is now extending its solar power efforts in Assam and has signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL). The project aims to contribute significantly towards the target set for Assam by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of generating 688 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy by 2022. The project is also a key cornerstone in enabling the state in its stated mission to create a Secure, Developed, and Great Assam, while focusing on areas of critical importance such as People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership.
Sustainability at Azure Power, however, is not only limited to setting up renewable energy plants across the country but also includes the idea of safeguarding the health and safety of the society and giving back to the environment and communities in a socially responsible way. In line with its commitment as a responsible corporate citizen, Azure Power has taken several initiatives for the local communities across various districts of the state of Assam namely Udalguri, Chachar, Nagaon and Kamrup. These initiatives include establishing three skill development centres, as well as distribution of tool of trades like sewing machines, promotion of animal husbandry, as well as employing people from the local community at these project sites. The local infrastructure has also been augmented at the villages with initiatives like setting up of streetlights and providing ROs for clean and safe drinking water. Furthermore, the infrastructure in the local schools have been augmented into smart classrooms by installation of multimedia enabled and computer-aided learning solutions with the intended impact of improving the holistic educational facilities for students. The three skill development centres have been successfully training over 1,000 villagers in skills like tailoring, embroidery, beautician courses and computer classes. The company continues to invest in the communities through its skill development initiatives so that the villagers can have meaningful employment and have a prosperous life in the years to come.
Over the years, Azure Power has made significant contribution in making a meaningful positive impact on the communities it operates in across other states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telengana, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. The intersection of sustainable development with community development is what will enable India's progress as a sustainable economy and Azure Power is committed to helping the country and the state of Assam achieve this vision.