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India & Sweden Announce The Launch Of Pilot Project To Tackle Stubble Burning

The project aims to develop technologies that can be commercialised after two years through joint cooperation between India and Sweden

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Every year, a choking smog descends on northwest India as the region's farmers burn their fields following the rice harvest. Pixabay

India and Sweden on Monday announced the launch of a pilot project to convert paddy stubble into green coal in Mohali, Punjab, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf inaugurated a bilateral high-level policy dialogue on innovation policy here.

The dialogue created a platform for key stakeholders from the government, private sector and academia to provide strategic direction for joint innovation policy formulation.

The dialogue jointly formulated and implemented short and long-term projects in strategic areas such as, but not limited to, circular economy, digital health, artificial intelligence, sustainable energy and future mobility, a statement said.

The dialogue brought together government officials, prominent industrialists as well as renowned academicians from both Sweden and India. Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan, and Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Health and Family Welfare, were also present for the dialogue.

The two leaders launched the Agri-Waste to High Energy Biocoal pilot project, which has been established under the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) Waste to Wealth Mission.

Stubble Burning
Farmers prefer to burn stubble and pay penalty rather than weed out the stubbles. Pixabay

The office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, in partnership with Bioendev, Sweden, has set up a torrefaction pilot plant for the conversion of agri-waste into biocoal at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) in Mohali, Punjab. The biocoal made from unutilised crop waste produces 20 times lower emissions than conventional coal.

The expected outcomes of this pilot study are: Improved air quality with reduction of crop burning; reduced emissions from use of biocoal as a clean energy source; livelihood generation opportunities for farmers as biocoal production creates new market linkages for agri-waste; soil quality improvement in fields from avoided crop burning, according to a statement.

Other major announcements made during the dialogue included:

The India-Sweden Collaborative Industrial Research & Development Programme in the area of ‘smart cities and clean technologies’ and ‘Digitisation and Internet of Things’, co-funded by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), India, and Vinnova, the Swedish innovation agency.

The project aims to develop technologies that can be commercialised after two years through joint cooperation between India and Sweden. Vinnova will provide funding to Swedish side participants up to 2,500,000 SEK as grant. On the Indian side, conditional grant of up to 50 per cent with a limit of Rs 1.5 crore per project to Indian project partners will be provided.

The Department of Science & Technology, India, and the Swedish Research Council will fund 20 bilateral projects in the area of computer science and material science under the Indo-Swedish Joint Network Grant Awards.

The Swedish Research Council will fund 14 million SEK for 2 years for this programme. The Department of Science and Technology will provide activity matching funding to the Indian counterparts.

Harvesting is done before burning stubble
On smaller farms with minimal mechanization, harvesting is the most labor-intensive activity of the growing season. Pixabay

Through the Strategic Indo-Swedish Cooperative Innovation Programme, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India, and Vinnova will announce a joint programme in the area of ‘digital health’. The programme aims to provide scalable and implementable innovative, sustainable and flexible health solutions in both countries, using artificial intelligence-based technologies as a tool.

The India-Swedish Collaborative Industrial Research & Development Programme in the area of ‘smart grids’ co-funded by the Department of Science & Technology, India, and the Swedish Energy Agency was also announced. The Swedish Energy Agency has allocated 25 million SEK over the next four years for this industry-led call.

Also announced was the establishment of the new ‘Joint Centre of Excellence in Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ between KTH Royal Institute of Technology and IIT Madras. The centre in Chennai is the first of four planned centres. The joint centre aims to build an entrepreneurial spirit and cross-border teams creating innovations that could target the markets in both Sweden and India, as well as globally.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences, India, and the Ministry of Education and Research, Sweden, signed a MoU on cooperation in polar science. The two ministries are committed to cooperate in the study of polar research by coordinating and sharing resources and data.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia arrived in India on a five-day state visit on Monday.

The Swedish royal couple will also visit Mumbai and Uttarakhand.

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This is the second state visit to India by the Swedish royal couple. The first was in 1993.

It is the fourth high-level exchange between Sweden and India since 2015 when former President Pranab Mukherjee was on a historic first state visit to Sweden. In 2016, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan LAfven visited India and in 2018 Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Sweden. (IANS)

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Reduction in Air Pollution May Increase Life-Expectancy: Study

Findings of a Research indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution

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Pollution
Fortunately, reducing air Pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Pixabay

Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking.

Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke, and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

“We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive,” said lead author Dean Schraufnagel from the American Thoracic Society in the US.

“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately,” Schraufnagel added.

Pollution
Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests. Pixabay

According to the researchers, In the US a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half.

School absenteeism decreased by 40 per cent, and daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease.

Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

A 17-day ‘transportation strategy,’ in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution.

In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 per cent and trips to emergency departments by 11 per cent. Hospitalizations for asthma decreased by 19 per cent.

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Findings of the Study indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately. Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

“Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks,” Schraufnagel said.

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Local programmes, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures, said the study. (IANS)