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Images from Kolkata: Reality of Swachh Bharat

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Reality Of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

By Arnab Mitra

Mini Bus Stand, Howrah

A year back, on 2 October on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, Narendra Modi launched the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ in order to make India clean by 2019. The Prime Minister himself led the charge of the movement, coming to the streets with brooms along with his ministers and other government employees.

The campaign witnessed not only common people taking initiative to make India clean, but also big names like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Ambani, Amitabh Bachhan and others in order to make “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” a successful story.

But almost a year after the launch of the clean India Mission/Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the condition of the country is as grimy and unsanitary as before. The roads continue to function as garbage dumping grounds, people continue to spit pan/gutkha casually in public places and in several villages people have no other option but to defecate in open. This is the reality of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

NewsGram travelled all around the ‘City of Joy’ Kolkata to find out how successful the “swachh Bharat” campaign has been in the past one year.

The first spot that the NewsGram team visited was Howrah, which houses the famous Howrah Bridge. However upon reaching the place, the deplorable condition of the city came out in full proportion.

Howrah Bus Terminus. Photo Courtesy: Madanmohan Samanta
Howrah Bus Terminus
Howrah Station Approach. Photo Courtesy: Madanmohan Samanta
Howrah Station Approach

 

One of the finest works of British architecture, Howrah Bridge is ‘decorated’ with red spots of gutkha at every nook and corner.

At the Howrah Station, people were seen relieving themselves in the open with foul smell of rotten food and urine all around.

The next stop was the anglo-hub of Kolkata’s Park Street, famous for the party goers was no better. There were wine bottles and waste food dumped on the roads, despite of a corporation dustbin on the street.

Amardeep Singh owner of the Mantra restaurant and bar at Park Street while talking to NewsGram, about the indifferent attitude of citizens towards sanitation said, “It’s temporary garbage, so we just dump it on the street. The corporation car comes and collects this garbage. We have been doing this since a long time.”

Jagannath Ghat Flower Market. Photo Courtesy: Madanmohan Samanta
Jagannath Ghat Flower Market

Maidan, the next place NewsGram visited, is a place of known for its greenery.  With Victoria Memorial at one side, and Eden Garden at the other side, it is a famous tourist spot of Kolkata.

N R S Medical College & Hospital, Kolkata Photo Courtesy: Madanmohan Samanta
N R S Medical College & Hospital, Kolkata

However upon reaching the place we found that the green pasture was littered with food packets, banana peels, cigarette buds.

This year on October 2, there will possibly be a huge celebration of one-year completion of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The government and the media outlets will probably make a month long propaganda of Government’s huge success in the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ project. But the sanitary condition of the country will continue to deteriorate, if the citizens do not participate seriously and actively to make India a clean nation.

Photo Courtesy: Madanmohan Samanta

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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)