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Nitin Gadkari to preside over final blasting of India’s longest tunnel on Monday

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Source: http://www.thehindu.com
Source: http://www.thehindu.com

New Delhi, July 12 (IANS): India’s longest road tunnel — under the Pirpanjal range in Jammu and Kashmir, will on Monday see its final blasting ceremony in the presence of union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, an official statement here said.

The ceremony will take place when engineers of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will blast a hole through the final section of the tunnel between Chenani and Nashri, near Patni Top.

“The road is likely to be opened to traffic in July next year. Work on the tunnel was started on May 23, 2011. The tunnel, connecting Chenani in Udhampur with Nashri in Ramban district, is being completed at a cost of over Rs.2,500 crore” the Road Transport and Highways Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The 9.2 km tunnel, a part of the ambitious 286 km four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, will not only reduce the distance between the two cities of Jammu and Srinagar by around 30 km, it will also provide an all-weather road between the two capitals of the northern Indian state, the statement said.

After the tunnel road is opened, travelers will no longer suffer traffic snarls on National Highway-1A following rock-falls, landslides, and heavy snowfall, to which this road section is susceptible.

“The state-of-the-art tunnel is simultaneously being built from the two ends and the NHAI teams will meet at the centre by drilling a hole through the final section,” it added.

The NHAI is also constructing a parallel escape tunnel along with the main tunnel for evacuation of commuters in any eventuality.

“The two tubes of the tunnel will be internally connected through 29 “cross-passages”, each after a gap of 300 meters, and the escape tunnel will exclusively be used for pedestrians. There is a provision for ventilation keeping in view the length of the tunnel,” the statement said.

The project will also have parking bays at specific distances to enable towing away or shifting of vehicles in the case of vehicular breakdown.

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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)