Aung San Suu Kyi seeks TERI advice on boosting sustainable development in Myanmar
Myanmar pro-democracy crusader Daw Aung San SuuKyi on Thursday underscored the need to protect natural resources from the adverse impacts of urbanisation during her maiden visit to The Energy and Resources Institute's (TERI) campus here today.
Suu Kyi, an internationally acclaimed icon for spearheading a widely-popular years-long struggle against military dictatorship in Myanmar, has also been a vocal advocate on environmental issues in public life, and endorses environmental conservation and the adoption of sustainable models of development.
Noting TERI's pathbreaking contributions in this realm, SuuKyi-accompanied by Director General, TERI, Dr. R.K. Pachauri--visited various research facilities and eco-friendly installations developed by the Institute across the campus. This included the RETREAT (Resource Efficient TERI Retreat for Environmental Awareness and Training) complex--an innovative structure that relies purely on efficient construction design and integrated use of renewable energy to conserve power--and the Micropropagation Technology Park.
Lauding the institute's efforts towards reducing the carbon footprint, SuuKyi said, "Myanmar is rich in energy resources, but also needs investment. We look for responsible investment that is not only sensitive to the environment, but also secures the future of our country. We need to learn more about handling our energy resources. Moreover, Myanmar also needs an effective energy policy."
She also asserted that TERI's innovations held the potential to become models for wider replication in Myanmar, a developing nation facing a major resource-crunch to fuel its economic growth. "We seek advice from TERI on how sustainable development can be brought about in Myanmar, and on the contours of a national energy policy. I also feel that people's prosperity should be considered when we think of environment and energy. We need to boost local governance by strengthening people economically,"added Suu Kyi.
TERI has had fruitful engagement with Myanmar over the past several years. In 2009, the Institute set up biomass gasifier systems for village electrification of cyclone-affected areas in Myanmar. Following the devastating Cyclone Nargis that rocked Myanmar in 2008, TERI also distributed solar lamps to the affected households in a landmark humanitarian intervention.
In 2002, the Institute was instrumental in establishing a demonstration biomass gasifier plant in Myanmar as part of BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand-Economic Cooperation) initiative. Myanmar has also been represented by a range of experts and leaders at the TERI's annual flagship series, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.
Reflecting on Suu Kyi's visit, Dr. R K Pachauri opined, "India and Myanmar face several challenges in eradicating poverty in which knowledge and the dissemination of scientific innovation must play a major role." He further stated, "Our two countries can be linked in a mutually productive programme of South-South cooperation, linking institutions such as TERI in India and those in Myanmar, especially in sectors such as bamboo craft and orchid cultivation."
Suu Kyi also toured the Nanobiotechnology Research Centre, the two-stage gasifier facility, the Bioremediation Complex and other energy-efficient structures on the campus, while discussing the nuances of the installed technologies with TERI experts.
The RETREAT campus, designed to be self-sufficient and independent of any external power supply, has harnessed both traditional and modern means of tapping renewable sources of energy to offer modern amenities at substantially reduced costs. It also recycles, through organic means, the sewage and wastewater generated from the complex.
Nearly 24 solar water-heating panels installed at the site provide up to 2000 litres of hot water every day. Photovoltaic panels set up on the buildings capture the sun's energy and recharge their batteries during the day. The energy generated by the panels is then fed into a battery bank, which is the main source of power at night.
In addition, agricultural waste, dried leaves and twigs and such forms of biomass fuel the 50-kilowatt gasifier that is the primary source of power for the building during the day. Effective insulation and a network of underground earth air tunnels circulating subterranean air throughout the residential block have also been installed at the site to provide cooling in the summer and heating in the winter.