Tuesday May 22, 2018
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Swachh Bharat: When ‘aam aadmi’ does something ‘khaas’

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By Ural Sharma

Lajpat Nagar Central market, (New Delhi): I went to Lajpat Nagar today after ages, in order to shop for a pair of ethnic earrings and chappals, trying to relive my LSR days and also binge on some lip smacking Ram Laddoos , Golgappe and Aunty’s momos.

Although I must admit that neither the chappals were able to fascinate my feet nor the eateries were able to tantalize my taste buds, what did attract my attention was the responsible citizenship demonstrated by two street vendors aka two AAM AADMIs!

While on one hand a man selling bangles by the roadside chided a well educated girl (who must be in her 20s) for throwing away a disposable cup next to his kiosk, on the other hand a bhelpuri wallah caustically drew the attention of his customer to the dustbin when he carelessly flicked the used spoon on the ground.

In the first instance, the girl refused to pick up the trash saying that it was not his house that she had dirtied and she threw the glass because other people had littered the place already. When the bangle seller retorted that it was HIS house indeed, she carried the altercation further, asking him to prove where his name was written.

Ironically, rather than making amends for her folly she chose to provide lame arguments justifying her action and thereafter stomped off! And how convenient we become when mocking the government on Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan being a mere symbolism!

This incident made my thoughts drift back to the time when I served as a teacher in an MCD school as a part of my Teach For India fellowship. While the pathetic plight of government schools is a fact well known and needs no elaboration, what really needs to be highlighted is the vehemence with which any attempt to improve that plight is resisted.

My Principal had once blasted me for covering an extremely filthy looking door with a curtain in order to make the classroom more aesthetically pleasing for my students. When I tried to explain my point of view she retaliated saying that this was not my home.

“It’s an MCD school. MCD schools are supposed to be dirty. Jo jaisa hai rehne do. Zyaada MCD ko badalne ki koshish mat karo!”

These kinds of incidents are a grim reminder of the attitude which we have internalized that public places are meant to be dirty and what needs to be kept clean is only one’s own house.

That’s where one’s duty ends. I wonder when will, WE, the people of India, begin to consider our entire country as an integrated whole- our HOMEland and start making attempts to nurture it in the same way as we do our homes.

(The author is a New Delhi based social activist. This article was written exclusively for NewsGram.)

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  • Rahul P

    This is india bro…koi kisise nahi darta..koi rules nahi follow karta..sab koi kisi na kisiko jaanta hai!..sad but true!

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To Fight Air Pollution, Delhi Scientists Are Turning Smoke Into Ink

Diesel exhaust contributed to just 2 percent of all air pollution deaths in India in 2015, according to the Health Effects Institute.

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In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted.
Garbage Burning in Delhi, wikimedia commons

As the pre-monsoon summer heat takes hold in New Delhi, two things are as inevitable as 40-degree-Celsius days: power cuts and air pollution from the diesel generators that then kick in.

But a team of Indian engineers has figured out away to bring some good from choking generator exhaust: They are capturing it and turning it into ink.

“The alarming thing about diesel generators is they are located in the heart of densely populated areas. It’s spitting smoke right there,” said Kushagra Srivastava, one of the three engineers who developed the technology, now installed in Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, and in the southern city of Chennai.

The idea, Srivastava said, came about when he and his co-founders stopped at a sugarcane juice stall on a hot day.

They noticed a wall that had turned black behind the stand’s diesel generator, where exhaust emerged from a pipe.

They wondered if diesel exhaust might be used to produce paint — and set out to try.

The device they came up with, which attaches to generators, captures 90 percent of the soot particles from cooled diesel exhaust. The material can then be sold to ink manufacturers.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world.
Smog in Delhi, wikimedia commons

Their company, Chakr Innovation, has so far installed 50 of the devices for government firms such as Indian Oil, real estate developers and other state government offices, earning more than 11 million rupees ($200,000) in revenue in the first year, Srivastava said.

The company has plans to install another 50 devices over the coming year, he said. It has so far sold 500 kg of collected soot, which has been used to create 20,000 liters of ink, he added.

Chakr Innovations is not the first start-up to see cash in diesel exhaust. A competitor called Graviky Labs, based in Bangalore, is using similar technology to turn diesel exhaust from vehicles into ink.

Choking Air

Srivastava and his co-inventors Arpit Dhupar and Prateek Sachan see themselves as part of a movement towards cleaner air and energy in a country where major cities struggle with choking air.

About 1.1 million people a year die from the impacts of air pollution in India, according to a 2015 survey by the U.S.-based Health Effects Institute. That is about a quarter of the total number of air pollution deaths worldwide, it said.

In New Delhi, levels of the most dangerous particles in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe limit, the survey noted.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world. Sachan comes from Allahabad, the third most polluted city in WHO’s 2016 rankings.

“Earlier I remember there were a lot less cars on the road, there was a lot less congestion, and a lot more greenery,” said Dhupar, Chakr’s chief technology officer.

But as trees were felled and roads widened to accommodate more cars, Dhupar — then in high school — developed chronic respiratory problems. Doctors put him on medication and warned him to stop playing sports.

“My problem is, whenever I start to run out of air, the anxiety levels shoot up,” he said.

Dhupar said many of his family and friends have also developed long-term respiratory issues.

Srivastava and Dhupar both grew up in New Delhi, which the World Health Organization in 2014 declared the most polluted city in the world.
Smoke Pollution, pixabay

Diesel exhaust contributed to just 2 percent of all air pollution deaths in India in 2015, according to the Health Effects Institute.

But in “confined spaces” in urban areas, where many generators are used, it represents a larger risk, said Pankaj Sadavarte, one of the report’s researchers.

Action in New Delhi

India has in place policies to monitor and restrict air pollution, but they can be difficult to enforce, experts say.

Worries about air pollution are growing, however. Last November, the capital launched its first air quality emergency action plan during a particularly hazardous week when pollution spiked.

The government halted construction within the city, raised parking fees to discourage driving and shut schools to keep children indoors.

Also Read: Exercising? Get Your Clothes Right 

The national Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is drafting a national policy to clean India’s air, though its release has been delayed, said Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India.

“The air pollution debate and health debate is picking up in India,” Dahiya said in a telephone interview. “That momentum is forcing the policymakers to make our cities more livable.” (VOA)