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Odisha-Chicago Varsity tie-up on energy, environ issues

Bhubaneswar, Nov 30: The Odisha Government has initiated a collaborative partnership with the University of Chicago, India Centre on energy and environmental issues. 

A high-level meeting in this regard was held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi at the State Secretariat here on Wednesday wherein an expert group from the university made a presentation on the possibilities of collaboration.

Considering the proposals and views of the expert group, the Chief Secretary Padhi advised to start intellectual collaborations on energy and environmental issues. He said, “The Government is working on pollution control and energy saving measures for some years. We would like to have an independent study of the approaches adopted so far by the State and bring in international practices for making those more effective at the field level.”

Replying to a media query, Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan said, “We have had an engagement with Chicago University through the Odisha Knowledge Hub (OKH) programmes. Now, we are holding preliminary talks with the India Centre of the university. The State will like to gain from their worldwide knowledge and expertise on monitoring of pollution control and improving energy efficiency in the State.”

He added, “The areas of collaboration in the matters of training and capacity building are also being explored with the team.”

Country Director of Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC), India Anant Sudarshan said “The objective of EPIC is to bring economic research to the forefront of solving energy and environment challenges. Presently, we are working with Government of India and various States in the reducing electric theft, increasing energy efficiency, emissions trading to control industrial air pollution, water quality monitoring, exploring new decentralised opportunities, crop burning, electricity reform, access to electricity and its distribution, etc.

The Government of Odisha has taken a lot of initiatives from their side in these matters. The State has taken a number of steps for pollution monitoring and accessing renewable energy, he said, adding that the EPIC would like to “have collaboration with the State Government and the Pollution Control Board to bring about qualitative as well as quantitative improvements in these initiatives of the State Government. 

It was decided at the meeting that the expert team would hold further discussions with the Department of Energy, the GRIDCO and the Pollution Control Board to identify specific areas of collaboration.

Energy Principal Secretary Rajesh Kumar Verma, GRIDCO CMD Hemant Kumar Sharma, Pollution Control Board Member Debidatta Biswal along with the representatives from various DISCOMs and senior officers participated in the deliberations. The four- member expert team was led by Programme Manager of Tata Centre for Development at Chicago Cheistha Kochhar.

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