“Sustainable procurement” new buzzword for Indian Railways
The Indian Railways have initiated the process of bringing green concerns to the centrality of its operations in an attempt to change in the way it does its business.
“This will come about either through the adoption of a new policy on procurements, or through amendments to existing rules”, said AK Tiwari. Advisor (Environment).
The Indian Railways – which annually spends an estimated Rs. 30,000 crore on procurements and spends an equal amount on purchase of material to implement projects – has adhered to the guiding principle of L-I (lowest bidder) in past decades. Even as initial costs of material purchased have been low, the life-cycle costs and environmental damage has often found to be heavy.
The Railways’ latest move follows last month’s release of the New Procurement Manual by the Finance Ministry, which all central government departments and ministries are required to adopt.
Even though India has been a signatory to the 2015 United Nations Framework for Climate Change (called the Paris Agreement), the record of the Greenhouse Gas Emission (GGE) mitigation plans of the state-owned transporter has been nothing to write home about.
While rail operators in 50 countries including United States, China, South Korea and those in Europe adopted the Sustainable Procurement policies more than a decade back, the Indian Railways have so far not conducted comprehensive studies to determine the level of its total annual emissions.
“The Indian Railways can make a small beginning by deciding to use paint with reduced lead content or through purchase of ICT products (computers, printers, photocopiers and office stationary) that meet the Bureau of Energy Efficiency standards”, said ministry official Sanjay Kumar, who received the 2017 individual leadership award by the US-based Sustainable Procurement Leadership Council.
The degree of preparedness on adopting the sustainable procurement policy being low, its rollout is likely to happen in a phased manner. “Officials will need to get trained, while vendors will also need time to develop new products that are environment friendly and sustainable,” said an official.
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