Switch from HFCs to HCs
Apropos of the edit “Towards being HFC-free” (FE, September 17), the evolution of industrial refrigerants began with CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which turned out to be very harmful for the ozone layer. Having realised the danger, the Montreal Protocol of 1987 called upon the world to phase out CFCs in favour of HCFCs(hydrochlorofluorocarbons). Next came the HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) which are currently being used. This was followed by HFOs (Hydrofluoro olefins), considered fourth-generation refrigerants that are relatively harmless. All these set of refrigerants are flourinated, therefore harmful to the environment, being greenhouse gases. As an eco-friendly alternative to these gases, came HCs (hydrocarbons) that have no flourine or chlorine and hence have having much lower ozone depleting potential. They are also cheap, energy-efficient and, above all, non-patented. However, the only disadvantage with these gases is they are inflammable, although no serious cases of accidents have been reported till now. Popular examples of HCs are butane and propane. The former (as isobutane or R600a) is used in refrigerators while the latter (as R290) is used in air-conditioners. In India, Godrej was the first company to opt for the use of HCs. But out of vested interests, MNCs have prevented HCs from getting popular. According to Transitioning HFCs in India: The Opportunity for Climate-Friendly Cooling in the Fast Food Industry, a report released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), multinational fast-food chains in India are one of the largest emitters of carbon due to their HFC-based refrigeration equipment. The report says just eight fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, and Cafe Coffee Day, could add the equivalent of nearly 1 million tonne of carbon emissions by 2020! India should commit to completely switching to better alternatives.
SK Gupta , Delhi
Fighting for railway autonomy
Apropos of the report “Centre budgets for wholesale change” (FE, September 22). The decision to merge the rail budget with the main budget is a welcome step at a time when the Railways has to play a vital role in accelerating the pace of economic growth and social development. In continuation to this radical change, the government must give full autonomy to the Railways to enable it to regain its lost market-share. At this juncture, Railways must also revamp its internal set up, fully digitise the entire operations, introduce dynamic pricing mechanism for determining fares and freight charges, monetise idle assets and curtail wastages. The safety systems, hygiene conditions in the compartments and at Railway stations are poor and need lot of improvements. The recent incidents of derailment that have happened at various places point at the inefficiency in ensuring accident-free tracks. The inconvenience and additional costs due to late running of the trains, particularly long-route ones, are forcing passengers to look for alternative modes of transport, thus leading to a loss of business for the Railways. The amenities and comforts available to the passengers need improvement.
BCCI isn’t playing cricket
BCCI seems to have upended the age-old idiom for unfair dealing—“it isn’t cricket”. Claiming sole proprietorship of the game, it feels whatever it does is cricket! It has brushed aside the directives of the Supreme Court panel on reforms. Others, too, are jousting with SC as the Karnataka government joins issue with it on Cauvery water allocation and the Centre, over appointments to higher judiciary. Should this attitude towards the highest court of the land persist, we may in time learn to “settle”our differences without the help of judges!