Over two-third of India’s one-billion-strong population continue to rely on carbon-emitting biomass and dung-based fuel to meet energy needs for cooking, a UN report has said.
“More than half of the global population lacking clean cooking facilities lives in India, China and Bangladesh. Here, India sits at the top of the list as the country with the largest population lacking access to clean fuel for cooking,” the UN Industrial Development Organisation report titled ‘Sustainable Energy For All’, says. It says India faces a significant challenge in providing access to adequate, affordable and clean sources of energy.
“Roughly 85 per cent of the rural households are dependent on traditional biomass fuels for their cooking energy requirements and about 45 per cent do not have access to electricity,” says the report.
The 2011 population census of India estimates the number of rural households at 167.8 million.
In many poor rural communities, where biomass remains the most practical fuel, an improved cook-stove can cut back indoor smoke levels considerably, the report says.
“Burning solid fuels produces extremely high levels of indoor air pollution. Typically, 24-hour levels of PM 10 (particulate matter up to 10 micrometers in size) in a biomass-using home range from 300 to 3,000 micrograms per cubic meter,” says the report.
As cooking takes place every day of the year, most people using solid fuels are exposed to small smoke particles at a level much higher than the accepted annual limits for outdoor air pollution.
The report suggests that improved cook-stoves can cut back indoor smoke levels.
“These stoves reduce a family’s exposure to harmful pollutants by optimising combustion, venting smoke through a flue and chimney and in some cases, reducing cooking time,” it says.