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India to build six new submarines for navy

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New Delhi, (IANS): India will soon float a tender — potentially worth Rs.60,000 crore — to build six advanced submarines for the navy for which six firms, including Larsen & Toubro, Pipavav Defence and the state-run Mazagon dockyard, are in the fray, informed sources said on Sunday.

“The RFP (request for proposal) for Project 75 will be called soon. It is intended to build six submarines over eight years. These will be next-generation submarines with air independent propulsion (AIP) systems,” a senior official in the defense ministry told IANS.

“A high-level committee has already inspected the shipyards of several companies, both in the private and public sectors. Based on the committee’s recommendation, all I can say is that L&T, Pipavav and Mazagon Docks are among the strong contenders,” the official added.

“Project 75 (under which six submarines are being built with French collaboration) has already been delayed by nearly 50 months. It is being brought on track. This will call for reduced delivery schedules,” the official said.

Another official told IANS that internal meetings will also start to deliberate on the findings of the eight-member panel set up to examine the facilities. “The report was submitted last month. Deliberations are due soon.”

As for the budget, of the Rs.1.23 lakh crore (Rs.1.23 trillion/$19 billion) cleared late last year for defense purchases, a whopping Rs.60,000 crore was set aside for the six stealth submarines under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

In April, Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that private players will also be invited for the P75 Project with incentives for early execution. But he also warned that if it is not completed in the stipulated time, heavy penalties will be imposed.

The government gave its clearance three years ago for six submarines with AIP capability and subsequently decided last year to build them in Indian yards as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

The original plan was to import two submarines. But it was later decided to make all six subs in India so that the domestic defense infrastructure is strengthened while allowing Indian companies to tie-up with the best- suited foreign collaborator.

“With AIP, a conventional submarine can stay under water for up to two weeks. Conventional ones need to come to the surface every three-five days for replenishment of oxygen,” said an official of the Defence Research and Development Organization that developed the AIP system.

“We are the only non-Western nation to have developed the technology,” the official added.

The official said the Naval Materials Research Lab at Ambernath in Maharashtra, which has developed the AIP, has tied up with a host of Indian state-run and private firms as partners in the project.

L&T’s mega shipyard, where the private company intends to execute the project, is at Kattupalli, about 40 km north of Chennai, on the east coast. This complex also includes a container port and a modular fabrication facility.

In March, the Reliance Group, led by industrialist Anil Ambani, announced that it was acquiring from the promoters of Pipavav Defence their 18-percent holding in the company, apart from a 26-percent mandatory open offer.

Pipavav’s facility is at the location by the same name on the Gujarat coast and claims modern, versatile engineering and fabrication facilities with shipbuilding infrastructure that is also suitable for the construction of a wide range of warships and submarines.

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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)