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Pakistan refuses to give up consultations with Kashmiri separatists

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United Nations: Pakistan has declared that it won’t give up consulting Kashmiri separatists in order to hold talks with India — a condition that India promptly rejected at the General Assembly here on Wednesday.

Asserting that consultations with separatists is essential for peacefully solving the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said, “Calling for the termination of these consultations, as a precondition for dialogue is unacceptable as well as counterproductive.”

Voicing New Delhi’s rejection of the Pakistani condition, Indian diplomat Abhishek Singh called it an interference in India’s internal affairs.

Lodhi also reiterated Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s four-point peace initiative that he had announced here last month and said Islamabad “stands ready to engage in a dialogue on all outstanding issues”, even though there was no positive response from India.

Responding to it on the floor of the General Assembly, Singh, a first secretary in India’s UN Mission, dismissed the offer, quoting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s blunt response, “We do not need four points, we need just one — give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk.”

Singh recalled that Swaraj had said, “India remains open to dialogue. But talks and terror cannot go together.” She had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nawaz had agreed to this at their July meeting during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Ufa, Russia.

“Let us hold talks at the level of NSAs (National Security Advisers) on all issues connected to terrorism and an early meeting of our directors general of military operations to address the situation on the border,” she had said. “If the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue.”

The talks scheduled in August between the National Security Advisers Ajit Doval of India and Sartaj Aziz of Pakistan were called off after Aziz wanted to meet Kashmiri separatists.

Sharif’s four-point plan called for renouncing the use or threat of use of force, demilitarizing Kashmir, withdrawal from Siachen Glacier and formalizing ceasefire along the Line of Control.

Lodhi prefaced the renewed talks offer with scathing a attack on India over Kashmir asserting that instead a plebiscite “the people of Kashmir have suffered brutal oppression”.

“Escalating tensions on the Line of Control in Kashmir and the Working Boundary also require Pakistan and India to take all possible measures to avert further escalation,” she added.

Speaking shortly after Lodhi at the session on the secretary general’s report on the work of the UN, India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji, said, “It is most unfortunate that the distinguished delegate of Pakistan has chosen to refer to issues that are extraneous to the debate that we are having today.”

He added, “We have diplomatic relations with Pakistan and such issues should be addressed in the framework of these relations, instead of being aired elsewhere.”

Singh, in his right of reply to Lodhi, said, “It is all the more ironic that these comments come from a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. These references are totally out of context and constitute a clear interference in the internal affairs of India. Therefore, we reject them in entirety.”

(Arul Louis/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)