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New Delhi: Historic Trail of Khirki Village is likely to be back in focus

The artists are part of the exchange programme between Khoj workshop and the A-I-R Laboratory, Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw

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Tomb & mosque near Khirki. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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The historic significance of Khirki village will be back in focus on Wednesday, July 20, with a triple treat of art, poetry, and food at the Khoj Studios.

The highlight of the evening will be an architectural walk through Khirki village by artists, giving a glimpse of its historicity, which used to be the crown of the Tughlaq city of Jahanpanah in the 14th century.

The ‘Decoding Khirki’ walkthrough will be conducted by Polish artists Simone De Iacobis and Malgorzata Kuciewicz, collaborators, and fellows at Khoj studio.

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“Khirki is a sample of reality, a village among other villages, a fluid urban context. It contains an array of well-known, formal, informal and formalized solutions that are representative of Delhi as a whole. Once you get past the visual spectacle, it offers ‘jugaad’ and the aesthetics of urban decay, the district offers room for a thorough observation of pure architectural elements,” said Kuciewicz.

“Jaali panels, space frame structures, chaajja roofs and ‘shade step tectonics’ are just some of the features we are going to explore in an hour-long tour over the low rise-high density structure of Khirki”, added De Iacobis, a member of the Centrala design group.

The artists are part of the exchange programme between Khoj workshop and the A-I-R Laboratory, Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw.

Khoj Studio. Image source: khojworkshop.org
Khoj Studio. Image source: khojworkshop.org

While the walkthrough will take place between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., the evening will also host an exhibition by Iranian artist Hoora Soleimani and Indian-Iranian artist Soghra Khurasani, which will highlight issues of human and individual freedom.

“I’m working on three projects during my residency. First is about what I’ve been doing in Iran about absurd weights, I’m going to go through people’s mental weights in a video-based approach. Second is a photography-based cultural and religious comparison of women’s freedom in the two countries. The third one will be a drawing and interview-based study of labourers in Delhi”, said Soleimani.

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For Khurasani, her work brings memories from Iran. “Young Iranians are not eager to remember their recent past. The country has gone through the revolution, war, and a religious takeover, because of which today’s youth faces restrictions from their own government in many circumstances. I am working on some objects and memories I brought from Iran; by showing them in my own ideology I will try to decode present situations by reading the past”, she said.

The third element of the evening, not but the least, will be a poetry reading session by upcoming poet Akhil Katyal. Brought together by Rustom’s Cafe and Bakery, it will bring poetry and food together for the aficionados. (IANS)

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To Fight Air Pollution, Delhi Scientists Are Turning Smoke Into Ink

Diesel exhaust contributed to just 2 percent of all air pollution deaths in India in 2015, according to the Health Effects Institute.

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In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted.
Garbage Burning in Delhi, wikimedia commons

As the pre-monsoon summer heat takes hold in New Delhi, two things are as inevitable as 40-degree-Celsius days: power cuts and air pollution from the diesel generators that then kick in.

But a team of Indian engineers has figured out away to bring some good from choking generator exhaust: They are capturing it and turning it into ink.

“The alarming thing about diesel generators is they are located in the heart of densely populated areas. It’s spitting smoke right there,” said Kushagra Srivastava, one of the three engineers who developed the technology, now installed in Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, and in the southern city of Chennai.

The idea, Srivastava said, came about when he and his co-founders stopped at a sugarcane juice stall on a hot day.

They noticed a wall that had turned black behind the stand’s diesel generator, where exhaust emerged from a pipe.

They wondered if diesel exhaust might be used to produce paint — and set out to try.

The device they came up with, which attaches to generators, captures 90 percent of the soot particles from cooled diesel exhaust. The material can then be sold to ink manufacturers.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world.
Smog in Delhi, wikimedia commons

Their company, Chakr Innovation, has so far installed 50 of the devices for government firms such as Indian Oil, real estate developers and other state government offices, earning more than 11 million rupees ($200,000) in revenue in the first year, Srivastava said.

The company has plans to install another 50 devices over the coming year, he said. It has so far sold 500 kg of collected soot, which has been used to create 20,000 liters of ink, he added.

Chakr Innovations is not the first start-up to see cash in diesel exhaust. A competitor called Graviky Labs, based in Bangalore, is using similar technology to turn diesel exhaust from vehicles into ink.

Choking Air

Srivastava and his co-inventors Arpit Dhupar and Prateek Sachan see themselves as part of a movement towards cleaner air and energy in a country where major cities struggle with choking air.

About 1.1 million people a year die from the impacts of air pollution in India, according to a 2015 survey by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute. That is about a quarter of the total number of air pollution deaths worldwide, it said.

In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world. Sachan comes from Allahabad, the third most polluted city in WHO’s 2016 rankings.

“Earlier I remember there were a lot less cars on the road, there was a lot less congestion, and a lot more greenery,” said Dhupar, Chakr’s chief technology officer.

But as trees were felled and roads widened to accommodate more cars, Dhupar — then in high school — developed chronic respiratory problems. Doctors put him on medication and warned him to stop playing sports.

“My problem is, whenever I start to run out of air, the anxiety levels shoot up,” he said.

Dhupar said many of his family and friends have also developed long-term respiratory issues.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world.
Smoke Pollution, pixabay

Diesel exhaust contributed to just 2 percent of all air pollution deaths in India in 2015, according to the Health Effects Institute.

But in “confined spaces” in urban areas, where many generators are used, it represents a larger risk, said Pankaj Sadavarte, one of the report’s researchers.

Action in New Delhi

India has in place policies to monitor and restrict air pollution, but they can be difficult to enforce, experts say.

Worries about air pollution are growing, however. Last November, the capital launched its first air quality emergency action plan during a particularly hazardous week when pollution spiked.

The government halted construction within the city, raised parking fees to discourage driving and shut schools to keep children indoors.

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The national Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is drafting a national policy to clean India’s air, though its release has been delayed, said Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India.

“The air pollution debate and health debate is picking up in India,” Dahiya said in a telephone interview. “That momentum is forcing the policymakers to make our cities more livable.” (VOA)