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India: Programme to Reduce Air Pollution in 102 Cities Formulated

Action plan to implement "Control of Pollution" programme for 80 of these cities was ready and the ministry has earmarked Rs 460 crore

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Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said a programme has been formulated to reduce air pollution in 102 cities across the country.

Interacting with reporters here, he said that action plan to implement “Control of Pollution” programme for 80 of these cities was ready and the ministry has earmarked Rs 460 crore for it.

“Our intention is to make the Earth green and sky blue. We have taken up 102 cities on the priority basis, where pollutants such as dust, solid waste, vehicular emmission, are causing air pollution,” he said.

Maharashtra has the highest number of cities, including Mumbai, in the list, while Delhi, Bangaluru, Bhopal, Lucknow are among the other major cities. The minister also said that the cities with million plus population would be given Rs 10 crore each under the programme.

India, Programme, Air Pollution
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said a programme has been formulated to reduce air pollution in 102 cities across the country. Pixabay

The ministry has also come up with a list of 28 cities, where it intends to reduce Particulate Matter (PM) – PM10 and PM 2.5 – by 10 per cent in the next one-two years.

The minister also said that his ministry has received an increase of Rs 482 crore in the 2019-20 budget to Rs 3, 175 crore which was 16 per cent higher year-on-year.

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However, the final budget allocation to the green ministry comes to Rs 2,954 crore as some of its subjects such as the Animal Welfare Board, and the National River Conservation Programme were transferred to other ministries. (IANS)

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Developers Can Now Start Building Hindi Skills for Alexa in India

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between

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Alexa, Amazon, Virtual Assistant
Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with 59 per cent share in 2018 (Representational image). Pixabay

Amazon on Tuesday announced that developers can now start building Alexa skills for customers in India with the new Hindi voice model available in Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

Developers would get a headstart and submit skills for certification as the company prepare to offer engaging experiences for Alexa users in one of the most spoken languages in the country, the company said in a statement.

Commercial hardware manufacturers who want to develop Alexa Built-in products for Hindi-speaking customers in India can request early access to the invite-only Alexa Voice Service (AVS) developer preview.

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa.

Amazon last year launched a new category of skill called “Cleo” that enables customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other languages. The idea was to improve Alexa’s language model and help her gradually speak in local languages.

Lawsuit, Amazon, Alexa
The lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving ‘voice prints’ of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices. Pixabay

Apart from Hindi, users can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other regional languages.

Alexa is currently available in over 80 countries and speaks more than 14 language variants.

One can sign up for the first webinar on Hindi skill building scheduled on July 24. Developers in India who have their Hindi-language skill certified for publication in India before July 31 would receive exclusive early bird Alexa merchandise.

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Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, told IANS recently that the company is working on infusing regional languages capabilities in Alexa for the Indian market but these are early days.

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between. (IANS)