Clean air can be good business
I Care For The Air”. It is a slogan that enlightened people all over the world are adopting. Assurance of clean air is important not only at one’ s home and workplace but also in one’s neighbourhood and even beyond, because drifting poisoned air knows no boundaries and can and does affect people irrespective of their location and economic and social status.
Statutory protection of the community against air pollution exists but this often remains on paper, especially in the case of developing countries like India. The law, if strictly enforced, can be a deterrent. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, provides for imprisonment for a minimum of eighteen months and up to six years for failure to comply with provisions of the law or directives issued under it. In the case of repeated offences, the jail term is from two years to seven years.
But more than law, it is awareness of the need for a clean ambience and techniques and technologies available for reducing pollution that will help improve matters. And in our times, clean technology and production are themselves business opportunities, besides being a symbol of the social responsiveness of corporates.
A whole variety of equipment is available for minimising gaseous emissions and controlling/managing emitted pollutants. Equipment that could be used in industrial plants include thermostatic precipitators, thermal oxidisers, catalytic oxidisers, fabric filers, cyclones, cartridge units, dust collectors, dry and wet scrubbers, centrifugal blowers/fans, dehumidifiers etc. Application of photoplasma and photochemistry is said to be becoming popular. Equipment for monitoring air pollution levels, especially in the context of automobile exhausts, constitutes another market segment.
The TIFAC (Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council) of India had, in the early nineties, come out with a publication on the status and feasibility of different industrial air pollution control technologies. With the march of time, such reports need to be updated.
Air quality is also important for homes. Among domestic fuels, the least (or nil) polluting is electricity (though, at the power generation station, there could be pollution depending on the ecology management standards adopted at the plant). According to experts, the next best alternative is gas, followed by kerosene. Biomass fuels, like wood, crop residues and dung are considered truly dangerous air pollutants. However, if biomass is gasified, then it becomes eco-friendly.
According to studies undertaken by the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), founded by the economist, Dr E.F.Schumacher (of “small-is-beautiful” fame), “smoke is the killer in the kitchen”. The group, which has been working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the USAID (United States Agency for International Development), says smoke from cooking on charcoal, wood, dung and crop waste kills nearly one million children a year.
Though India is not among the LDCs (least developed countries) that are covered by programmes of the ITDG, it is a reality that in many rural, and also urban, habitats of the poor in our country, all these killer fuels are used. Techniques and equipment to deal with the problem would benefit not only the poor but also better-off communities around them. The group has come out with low-cost solutions like improved stoves, smoke hoods, chimneys and improved ventilation. Many of these can be made and marketed by manufacturers in India in the national interest.
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