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Unveiling the Green Revolution at Indian Airports

Context:

The growth and mobility facilitated by the civil aviation sector play a vital role in propelling the economic progress of the nation. As of 2024, India holds the 5th position in the global GDP rankings. The civil aviation sector is emerging as a pivotal force behind growth and mobility, positioning itself as a key driver of economic advancement. Presently, India stands as the third-largest aviation market globally.

Relevance:

GS-3

  • Infrastructure
  • Industrial Policy

Mains Question:

The civil aviation sector plays a crucial role in driving growth and facilitating mobility, pushing the nation’s economic progress forward. Analyse. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Relevant Statistics:

  • The anticipated air passenger traffic in India, encompassing both domestic and international travel, is projected to reach 395 million in the fiscal year 2023-24.
  • Looking ahead to the fiscal year 2030, it is forecasted that the number of domestic airport passengers in India will escalate to 700 million, while international airport passenger numbers will reach 160 million.

Reasons Behind the Growth of Civil Aviation Sector:

  • This surge can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the expansion of tourism and infrastructure development, the presence of low-cost carriers, and the growth of disposable income.
  • The construction of new airports, the enlargement of existing ones, and the introduction of top-notch facilities further reinforce India’s status as a global aviation powerhouse.

Shifting to Renewable Energy Sources:

  • Global experts worldwide are optimistic about India emerging as the most dynamic market for global aviation, primarily due to substantial investments by the Indian government in airport infrastructure.
  • However, the government’s priorities find themselves at the intersection of a complex Venn diagram — aiming to maximize economic opportunities while also progressing steadily toward achieving decarbonization objectives.
  • This commitment is evident in their emphasis on promoting initiatives that reduce carbon emissions.
  • A notable milestone in this direction occurred earlier this year when Cochin International Airport (CIAL) achieved the distinction of being the world’s first airport entirely powered by solar energy.
  • This groundbreaking project is anticipated to prevent the emission of 300,000 tons of CO2 over the next 25 years, equivalent to planting three million trees.

Relevant Statistics:

  • Remarkably, 66 Indian airports have already achieved complete reliance on green energy sources, utilizing solar, wind, and hydro power. An additional 121 airports are set to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2025.
  • In India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has been at the forefront of promoting sustainable development in the aviation sector by advocating for the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) as a green alternative.
  • The environmental initiatives in Indian airports go beyond ecological considerations; they represent a strategic economic imperative.
  • Through the adoption of sustainable practices, India is positioning itself as a global leader in the aviation industry, attracting investments and fostering innovation.

Shaping the Future of an Industry

  • The utilization of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in comparison to traditional jet fuels has the potential to achieve an up to 80% reduction in lifecycle carbon emissions.
  • The Indian government actively advocates for SAF use and has set a target to blend 10% of SAF with conventional jet fuel by the year 2030.
  • In the face of the significant challenge of climate change and its associated impacts worldwide, developing a sustainable approach to scaling infrastructure is paramount. It seems the government is cautiously progressing in the right direction by adopting a comprehensive approach.
  • To enhance airport infrastructure, the government aims to construct 100 airports by 2024 under the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Scheme.

Relevant Statistics:

  • Currently, 74 airports have been developed, with over 2.15 lakh UDAN flights operated and more than 1.1 crore passengers benefiting from UDAN flights thus far.
  • While the creation of new airports is geared towards improving connectivity and strengthening supply chain networks, there is a commitment to integrating environmental considerations.
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has provided guidance to developers of upcoming Greenfield Airports and relevant State Governments, emphasizing the importance of striving for carbon neutrality and net-zero emissions, which includes promoting the use of renewable energy sources.
  • The Indian aviation industry has experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% over the past five years, as reported by KPMG.
  • Presently, the Indian Civil Aviation MRO market is valued at approximately $900 million and is projected to reach $4.33 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of around 14-15%.
  • The ongoing transition has attracted various stakeholders, opening up new avenues for innovation. A recent development is the Odisha Government’s appointment of RITES Ltd as the consultant for airports in Rourkela, Jeypore, and Amarda Road, where the company has showcased its expertise in green airport development.
  • Previously, this Railways PSU was engaged to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for Shivamogga Airport under the UDAN Scheme. This shift towards environmentally friendly practices not only enhances resource management but also results in cost savings, ultimately boosting the overall competitiveness of the aviation sector in the country.

Conclusion:

India has firmly established itself on the global aviation stage. As we eagerly embrace the future of aviation, there is tremendous potential for the industry to revolutionize travel and contribute significantly to our decarbonization goals. The possibilities for this dynamic and exciting industry seem boundless.


February 2024
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