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MP ‘toxic’ shoes: Shift to green procurement

When governments procure stuff with a smaller ecological footprint, it creates larger markets for green products, stabilising and mainstreaming them.

opinion Updated: Aug 27, 2018 08:07 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi
Bharati Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Tribals in MP,shoes given to tribals in MP,shoes with toxic azo dyes
When governments procure stuff with a smaller ecological footprint, it creates larger markets for green products, stabilising and mainstreaming them. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The one political controversy I was pleased to read about this week was about the safety of the shoes tribals in Madhya Pradesh were being given. The argument was about toxic azo dyes in these shoes. I know it’s about political parties pulling each other down, but it draws attention to green procurement by the government.

When governments procure stuff with a smaller ecological footprint, it creates larger markets for green products, stabilising and mainstreaming them.

Sometimes, it can bring down prices of these typically more expensive goods, making green goods accessible for everyone. This is sheer economies of scale.

Third, it signals the importance of not damaging the environment and sets a precedent that private agencies can follow. According to think-tank The Energy and Resources Institute, in 2013, India spent 20% of its gross domestic product (GDP), or at least ₹12 lakh crores per annum, on procurement. What if this actually simultaneously safeguarded the environment?

The Indian Railways has already shown leadership, with biodegradable table-wear likely in the future and waste recycling in some stations.

But the Railways are currently an exception. The rest need guidance. That will require setting up a group devoted to this in either the consumer affairs ministry or the ministry of environment, forests and climate change. The group will be mandated to identify parameters for green, and rapidly assess, on request, if an intended procurement is green at all. Finally, it will identify green products independently.

The planet is collapsing. India has to expand its role to fight this. Shifting to greener public procurement is an important step in this direction.

First Published: Aug 27, 2018 07:57 IST