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India announces projects worth $17.9 mn for Palestine

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Ramallah: India on Monday announced projects worth $17.9 million in Palestine, and also a grant of $5 million, as President Pranab Mukherjee arrived here from Amman on a maiden visit of an Indian head of state to this troubled country.

The projects, announced soon after delegation-level talks between the two sides, cover a $12-million technology park, $4.5 million towards an institute of diplomacy, $1 million for an India-Palestine ICT and Innovation Centre.

“The grant is for budgetary support for Palestine,” Anil Wadhwa, secretary, east, in India’s external affairs ministry, said during a media briefing, adding that this was part of India’s ongoing support towards capacity building in Palestine.

He also said the number of seats for Palestinians under the Indian and Economic Cooperation Program was being doubled to 100, while scholarships to students to study in Indian universities will now to up to 25 from 10 earlier.

President Mukherjee, who had arrived at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv earlier in the day, immediately proceeded for Ramallah, changing his limousine at Bitunia, the checkpoint between Israel and Palestine.

Among his other engagements, he laid a wreath at the mausoleum of late Palestine president Yaseer Arafat, paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, and took part in a ceremony to name a road and a roundabout in the central quarters of this city as Sharia-al-Hind and Maidan-al-Hind.

During the delegation-level deliberations, where the bulk of the articulation of the Indian side was by the president, New Delhi once again reiterated its position over its unwavering support for the Palestine cause, and that it favored a negotiated settlement with Israel.

The Indian interlocutors present at the talks, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave a detailed presentation on the issues of conflict with Israel, and even circulated a position paper on the subject.

One of the issues he wished to emphasize was how in a matter of 78 years, the Palestinians-held territory had shrunk from what they claimed was at 100 percent historically, to 80 percent in 1937, 44 percent under the UN partition scheme, 22 percent by 1967, and 12 percent now.

President Abbas said his country just wanted the Israelis to agree to the 1967 de-facto lines endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1988.

The Indian president, on his part, said they believed in arriving at a negotiated settlement, rather that the road of conflict, based on the Quartet Roadmap, proposed by the US, EU, Russia and the UN, as also various resolutions at the United Nations.

(Arvind Padmanabhan, 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)

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