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Yamuna may be less polluted this Durga Puja

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New Delhi: If all goes well, the Yamuna river may be less polluted this Durga Puja.

Puja committees across Delhi seem to have gone all out to ensure that the idols of goddess Durga are made using eco-friendly materials. This follows a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that prohibits immersion of the idols made using non-biodegradable materials — because they further pollute an already polluted Yamuna.

Those organising Durga Pujas here say they are aware of the NGT fiat.

“Our idols have been prepared using natural colours. We are using products which do not cause any harm to the environment,” Shekher Guha, Secretary of Delhi’s CR Park Mela Ground Durga Puja Committee in south Delhi, told IANS.

Guha’s team organises one of the biggest — and perhaps most crowded — Durga Pujas in the capital, the main reason being CR Park is dominantly populated by Bengalis.

Puja committees have restrained the idol makers from using chemicals, paints, glitters and plastics which don’t get dissolved in the water body, he said.

The NGT had in September banned immersion of idols made from non-biodegradable material like quick-setting gypsum plaster, also known as Plaster of Paris, or plastic in the Yamuna river.

“Immersion should be allowed only of (idols) made from biodegradable material and not plastic/Plaster of Paris. Only those colours should be used on the idols which are environment- friendly,” the NGT had said.

Guha said the idol markers had embraced the idea of a “pollution-free puja”.

“A few organisers have even prepared small ponds near the ‘pandal’ where they plan to immerse the smaller idols,” Guha said.

Pradip Majumder, vice president of the South Delhi Durga Puja Joint Procession Committee, explained to IANS the steps being taken to comply with the NGT order. He said cranes and other machinery would be deployed at the Kalindi Kunj Ghat along the Yamuna to scoop out the idols within minutes of their immersion.

Every year thousands of idols of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik are immersed into the Yamuna, resulting in further deterioration of its pollution levels.

Delhi, home to a huge Bengali population, organises hundreds of Durga Pujas every year. Majumder couldn’t estimate the total in Delhi but said south Delhi itself has played host to “100 Durga Pujas”.

A senior Delhi government official told IANS that the administration was going all out to ensure the NGT order.

“We are taking adequate measures to see that the pollution level in the Yamuna doesn’t go up because of Durga Puja,” he said.

Yamuna, which Hindus consider a holy river, originates at Yamunotri, in the Himalayan range. Its water quality is generally considered “okay” till it flows through Haryana and reaches Delhi where it flows in the capital’s eastern fringe. This is where all the immersions take place.

When the Yamuna enters Uttar Pradesh, pollution intensifies — making the once lively river, which merges with the Ganges in Allahabad, dirty as well as stinking in most places.

(by Priya Yadav, 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)