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Alternative plan to avoid idol-immersion polluting Yamuna

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Picture Credit: thehindu.in
Picture Credit: thehindu.in

New Delhi: With Indian festivities knocking at the door, pollution owing to idol immersion is one of the most important concerns worrying the locales of the capital. Idols — some of which contain toxic materials — at the Yamuna Ghat in Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj area has added to the pollution in the river, police say. Though the Puja organisers are aware of the prospective cons of idol immersion and don’t intend to pollute the Yamuna, they can’t help it as there is no alternative arrangement for the same.

On Sunday, at least 200 Ganesh idols were immersed at the ghat leading to a pile-up of idols, broken earthen pots, rotting flowers, tattered pieces of cloth and sodden coloured paper on the banks of the river which is the lifeline of the national capital.

“Even after the immersion, no one from the (municipal) corporation comes to clean the banks. The locals collect the bamboo from the river bank for their own use. This practice is seen every year. The MCD comes to just put the road in order,” said Bhubaneswar, a local resident.

According to police, at least 200 Ganesh idols were immersed on Sunday. On Friday, more than 500 Vishwakarma idols were immersed.

“This adds to the pollution in the Yamuna but no alternate arrangement has been made by the administration. This will go on till the 11th day of the ongoing Ganesh festival,” said a police official from Jaitpur police station in south Delhi.

A large quantity of insoluble waste like wood, plastic, and toxic material remained floating in the river as the puja organisers left the ghat having performed the last rituals of bidding adieu to their beloved god.

About 100 puja organisers from the Jasola Pocket 12 Ganesh Puja Samity have been coming here for the past four years since they started organising puja in their locality.

“Every year we come here for Visarjan. There is no alternate arrangement. We don’t want to pollute the Yamuna but can’t help it. The government should make separate provisions for Visarjan. Every year the Yamuna gets dirty during Ganesh festival and Durga Puja, the government should do something about it.

“There is so much space near the ghat, the government should make separate arrangement for immersion,” said Somesh Lal, an engineer and a member of the puja committee.

“The sadhus and sants (seers) of our country should come forward and create awareness about it. Only then will this practice change,” he added.

Rajesh, a member of a puja committee from Noida Sector 76, said: “The mud which is used for making Durga idols in Kolkata is always recommended because it gets absorbed in the water. Idols made of Plaster of Paris are not good because they release a lot of chemicals. The government should make alternate arrangements for immersion of idols.”

(IANS)

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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)