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Why are states still insisting on Aadhaar card, asks SC

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday took exception to the fact that despite its ruling that governments should not insist on the possession of Aadhaar card for the disbursal of benefits under the social welfare schemes, there were states that were flouting its order.

A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice S.A.Bobde, and Justice C. Nagappan expressed its concern over states acting in breach of its interim order passed in September 2013 and reiterated in March this year in this regard.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Chelameswar pointed to the court’s earlier order asking the central and state governments and their agencies not to link the disbursal of benefits under various social welfare schemes with Aadhaar card.

“Notwithstanding the earlier interim order, some of the states are still insisting on Aadhaar card,” he observed, citing certain reports in the newspapers.

At this, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said: “As far as we are concerned, we had made it clear not to insist on Aadhaar card for any official work.” He said he would get back to the court after checking with the authorities.

In its September 23, 2013 order, the court said: “No person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.”

The court’s concern over the breach of its interim order came as it commenced hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar card and describing government insistence on possessing it as being “coercive” and violating the right to privacy.

Meanwhile, the central government on Tuesday told the court that it was difficult to roll back the scheme which was integral to government’s efforts to eradicate poverty as it sought the hearing of challenge to the Aadhaar scheme by a constitution bench of five judges.

Rohatgi told the court that about Rs.5,000 crore have been spent on the unique identification scheme and the social welfare programs and subsidy schemes are linked to Aadhaar card.

Telling the court that about 80 crore people in the country have been covered under the Aadhaar program, he said that any scrapping of the scheme would adversely affect the government efforts to eradicate poverty.

The position found support of the senior counsel K.K.Venugopal – who appearing for Centre for Civil Society – referred to several judgments backing the plea for referring challenge to Aadhaar scheme to the constitution bench.

The court asked Rohatgi to look into the judgments being referred to by Venugopal and address the court on Wednesday morning on the plea to refer the matter to the constitution bench.

The court is hearing a batch of petitions including one by Karnataka High Court’s Justice (Retd.) K.S. Puttaswamy who had moved the court in 2012, contending that the entire Aadhaar scheme was unconstitutional as the biometric data collected under it was an incursion and transgression of individual privacy.

(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)