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India to reconsider international military force pullback from Afghanistan

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United Nations: Within hours after terrorist suicide bombers attacked Afghanistan’s parliament on Monday, India asked the international community to reconsider pulling troops from there because of the worsening security situation.

Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji,  told the Security Council,  “Given the critical phase that the political transition has entered, and the deteriorating security situation, we feel there is a strong case for the international community to take a fresh look at the manner in which the drawdown of the international military presence in Afghanistan is being planned out.”

He cited the latest report on Afghanistan by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which said that armed clashes have increased by 45 percent compared to last year and 71 percent of the violence has been concentrated in the southern, south-eastern and eastern regions.

“These statistics only reinforces our view that terrorism, and not tribal differences or ethnic rivalries is the main source of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan,” he said.

The NATO-led coalition,  International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which had 140,000 troops at the height of the deployment, formally ended its operations in Afghanistan at the end of last year and pulled out most of its personnel.

Only about 12,000 troops have been left behind in a non-combat role to advise and continue training the Afghan military in an operation named Resolute Support Mission.

Ban’s report also said that, according to Afghan government estimates, there are 7,180 foreign fighters in the country. “It is obvious that they could not have entered Afghanistan, or continue to sustain their terror attacks without support from beyond Afghanistan’s borders,” Mukerji said in a diplomatically couched reference to Pakistan which it did not name.

At the start of the Council debate on UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), its head Nicholas Haysom also referred to the role of the foreign fighters and expressed concern that Islamic State (IS) was trying to establish a foothold in the troubled nation.

Haysom, also, called for greater regional involvement and collaboration to meet the threat from these forces.

Turning to the tattered economy of Afghanistan, Mukerji said that nation could be the “natural land bridge” connecting the economies of Central Asia and South Asia.

To enhance Kabul’s role India has taken three steps, he said: “We have indicated our willingness to join the an expanded PATTTA (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan Trade and Transit Agreement), we are working with the government of Iran to see how the Chahbahar Port in Iran can be used to provide Afghanistan with an alternate access to the sea route, and have unilaterally offered Afghanistan access to the facilities of the Integrated Check Post at Attari on the Wagah-Attari border crossing point on the India-Pakistan international border.”

(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)