Saturday January 18, 2020

The dire need to revive the Assamese brass industry

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Born_bronze_-_Bronze_castsDhubri (Assam) : Artisans working for generations to make captivating brass artifacts and utensils are looking towards the government – and have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – for succor as their vocation is threatened by rising costs and dwindling profits.

Over 300 artisans, involved in the brass industry in Kartimari and Sapatgram villages in Kokrajhar and Dhubri districts respectively, have now sought to attract the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who has launched the “Make in India’ and “Make in the Northeast” initiatives – to revive the industry that is around a century old.

The traditional way of making different things from brass has not only given the villagers an identity but also provided employment opportunities to the youths of the two villages.

The once flourishing village industry has hit such a nadir that many artisans have already shut shop and their young wards have since switched over to other more remunerative professions or simply left for Kerala, Gujarat and neighboring West Bengal to work as manual laborers.

“We have been making brass utensils and artifacts like plates, bowls, cymbals and other items used for daily household work, as well as in marriages and religious functions for generations now. From more than 300 people of over 100 families once dependent on the industry, the number has now come down to less than 50 families. We not only supplied brass items to markets in Assam and West Bengal, but also won awards way back in 1993 and 1994,” artisan Ram Prasad Karmakar, 45, said.

Increasing production cost and shrinking profits forced Karmakar to abandon brass production activity. He is now earning his livelihood by doing contractual work under the state electricity department.

“I will definitely resume production of brass if we get some help from the government,” he said.

The villagers, mostly Hindu Bengalis, collect brass scrap supplied by traders in nearby markets, smelt it in coal-fired ovens and then make attractive items by hand. They forge the brass items with the help of tools they have themselves prepared.

“There is still a huge market for our products in Assam and West Bengal. We require electric machines to melt brass scrap, but it requires a lot of money. We formed a cooperative society a few years ago, but it did not last long due to lack of government support,” Bimal Karmakar, another former metal artisan at Kartimari village in Kokrajhar district, said.

“After we heard Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking about reviving village industries under the ‘Make in India’ campaign, we got an email sent to Modi for help. We even received a confirmation it had been received,” he said.

“If the government provides us financial support and a little help to improve our skills, we can revive the village industry. Young boys who left for Kerala, Gujarat and West Bengal can return and work here again. Many old artisans are very good in designing, but the trade will be lost forever unless something is done,” said Sambhu Karmakar, a brass metal artisan at Sapatgram.

The village industry used to provide jobs to even women as they made the earthen pots used in melting brass scrap or other raw material used for making brass utensils.

Bad shape of the brass industry has not only led to economic hardships for the villagers but also led to other social problems.

“People have migrated to urban areas in search of jobs. They have also begun sending youngsters to work in paddy fields in nearby villages or even outside, which has led to increase in the number of school dropouts here,” Sambhu Karmakar said.

(IANS)

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Air Pollution From Oil and Gas Industries Visible From Space: Study

Air pollution from oil, gas production sites visible from space

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Oil gas industry
Researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere. Pixabay

Oil and gas production has doubled in some parts of the United States in the last two years, as researchers have seen a significant increase in the release of the lung-irritating air pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a more-than-doubling of the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere.

“We see the industry’s growing impact from space, we really are at the point where we can use satellite data to give feedback to companies and regulators, and see if they are successful in regulating emissions,” said study lead author Barbara Dix from University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers set out to see if a suite of satellite-based instruments could help scientists understand more about nitrogen oxides pollution (including nitrogen dioxide) coming from engines in US oil and gas fields.

Combustion engines produce nitrogen oxides, which is a respiratory irritant and can lead to the formation of other types of harmful air pollutants, such as ground-level ozone, the research said.

Oil gas industry
On oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers. Pixabay

According to the researchers, on oil and gas drilling and production sites, there may be several small and large combustion engines, drilling, compressing gas, separating liquids and gases, and moving gas and oil through pipes and storage containers.

The emissions of those engines are not controlled.

“Conventional ‘inventories’ meant to account for nitrogen oxides pollution from oil and gas sites are often very uncertain, underestimating or overestimating the pollutants,” said study co-author Joost de Gouw.

“And there are few sustained measurements of nitrogen oxides in many of the rural areas where oil and gas development often takes place,” Dix said.

So the research team turned to nitrogen dioxide data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on board a NASA satellite and the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TropOMI) on a European Space Agency satellite.

They also looked at gas flaring data from an instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi satellite system.

Between 2007 and 2019, across much of the US, nitrogen dioxide pollution levels dropped because of cleaner cars and power plants, the team found, confirming findings reported previously.

Also Read- Study Says, World’s Oceans Were Warmest in 2019

The clean air trend in satellite data was most obvious in urban areas of California, Washington and Oregon and in the eastern half of the continental US.

However, several areas stuck out with increased emissions of nitrogen dioxide: The Permian, Bakken and Eagle Ford oil and gas basins, in Texas and New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas, respectively, the study said. (IANS)