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Motor Vehicle Agreement signed between India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal to ease cross- border movement

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Thimpu: India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal on Monday signed a far-reaching agreement here that will enhance regional connectivity by facilitating seamless movement of people, goods and vehicles among the four nations, with the first phase set to begin in October.

The Transport Ministers of the four countries inked the Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN MVA).

India was represented at the meeting by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.

“This (BBIN MVA) would enable the exchange of traffic rights and ease cross-border movement of goods, vehicles, and people, thereby helping expand people-to-people contact, trade, and economic exchanges between our countries,” a joint ministerial statement later said.

According to the statement, all the four countries will endeavour to carry out a six-month work-plan from July to December 2015 for the implementation of BBIN MVA. The staged implementation of the project is slated from October 2015.

During the meeting, Gadkari, who also hold charge of the shipping ministry, said: “We understand our advantage of linking with all our neighbours. Simultaneously, we recognise our additional responsibility to accommodate our neighbours’ concerns.”

“We are and will remain flexible enough to address various challenges faced by our neighbouring countries and are always ready to support their initiatives to bridge various deficits.”

Under the work-plan for project implementation, the formalisation of the BBIN MVA is expected to be completed by August. The installation of project pre-requisites like IT, infrastructure, tracking and regulatory systems are scheduled by December 2015.

The joint statement called BBIN MVA a complementary instrument to existing transport agreements at the bilateral levels between the four countries. This, it said, will continue to be honoured by the contracting parties.

The statement further said that the protocol is also a result of strong determination expressed by the leaders of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at their 18th summit in Kathmandu in November last year to deepen regional integration.

The leaders also noted with concern, the poor merchandise trade under the free trade pact, which amounted to a mere $3 billion since July 2006.

“We further recall their renewed commitment to substantially enhance regional connectivity in a seamless manner through building and upgrading roads, railways, waterways infrastructure, energy grids, communications and air links,” the joint statement added.

The joint statement’s reference to the SAARC MVA assumes significance as the stalled agreement prompted the 18th summit to encourage member states to initiate regional and sub-regional steps to enhance connectivity. The BBIN MVA is the culmination of that development.

Gadkari announced in the meeting that a major breakthrough has also been achieved between India-Myanmar and Thailand and that the three nations have agreed to develop a similar framework agreement on the lines of the draft SAARC MVA.

“Secretary-level discussions were successfully concluded in Bengaluru this month and consensus has been reached on the text of agreement,” the minister said.

“On conclusion of this agreement, our sub-region will get access to the larger ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market through seamless passenger and cargo movement.” (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)