Posts tagged ‘air pollution’

14/12/2016

Pop-Up Restaurant at Everest Base Camp Aims for Peak of Fine Dining – India Real Time – WSJ

Chefs are trekking thousands of feet to prepare fancy food in the cold

Trekkers pass through a glacier at the Mount Everest base camp, Nepal.

The peaks of fine dining just keep getting higher and higher.

A caravan of roving chefs and their 15 guests is currently making its way up the Himalayas toward the base camp at Mount Everest, where, 17,500 feet above sea level and amid the lashing winds and bone-penetrating chill of the Nepalese winter, food will be served.

The One Star House Party, as the project has been dubbed, is preparing 16 more such destination dining experiences, one a month, through 2018, though not all of the destinations are so extreme. Among the chefs involved is James Sharman, a onetime chef de partie at Noma, the influential, soon-to-close restaurant that put Copenhagen on the global culinary map.

The Nepal journey is costing its participants $1,050 each. Down jackets and sleeping bags are included. The group didn’t immediately respond to a request for the menu.

Everest Base Camp is, literally, a trek. Not a quick one, either. The group first flew from Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu to the tiny airstrip at Lukla, undertaking one of the most treacherous landings on the planet. From there they are walking, helped by porters, who are presumably carrying more than the usual amount of kitchen gear on their backs. Most travelers are advised to spend more than a week making their way up to base camp, to allow their bodies to adjust to the altitude.

On the way, the chefs have been collecting local flora for their mountaintop pantry.

Everest Base Camp is no stranger to haute cuisine. Adventurers scaling the great mountain with some of the more full-service expedition companies can enjoy sushi, pork chops and Peking duck alongside their protein bars and instant noodles. A few years ago Glenfiddich sponsored a whiskey tasting there, billed as the world’s highest, that was broadcast live online.

For more earthbound eaters in South Asia, there will be at least one more chance to join the One Star House Party. Their next destination, slated for January, is Mumbai. Reservations aren’t yet being taken.

Source: Pop-Up Restaurant at Everest Base Camp Aims for Peak of Fine Dining – India Real Time – WSJ

21/11/2016

How Dangerous Are India’s Railways? – The Numbers – Briefly – WSJ

The derailment of a train in northern India that killed more than 130 people highlights the dangers and challenges along the country’s rail network.

Accidents on the rail system resulted in more than 25,000 deaths in 2014, according to the latest statistics available.

While the cause of Sunday’s incident isn’t yet known, it again draws the spotlight onto the country’s rickety rail system.

So how dangerous is traveling on the country’s trains? Here are the numbers.

28,360     The number of railway accidents in India in 2014. Though that was a decrease of 9.2% from a year earlier, 25,006 people died. That figure is much higher than the 768 deaths recorded on America’s railways the same year.

17,480     The number of railway accidents that were reported to be due to someone falling from a train or a “collision with people at track.” In India, passenger trains are often full to bursting, with people hanging out of windows and doors.  Pedestrians also often cross tracks by foot. The government has sought to raise awareness about the proper use of level crossings and the dangers of strolling near railway lines.

5,024     The number of people who died in railway accidents in Maharashtra in 2014. The western state is home to Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, which has some of the most crowded and dangerous suburban trains.

442     The number of rail-construction projects active in India as of March 2014. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made modernizing the ageing network a priority,  and has made building a high-speed corridor a pet project.

$16 billion     The amount a government audit found that delays and poor planning had caused costs on the 442 rail projects to balloon.

40%     The proportion of the more than 31,000 railway crossing that are unmanned. Those level crossing contribute to about 40% of train accidents, according to a government news release.

Source: How Dangerous Are India’s Railways? – The Numbers – Briefly – WSJ

30/09/2016

The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry – BBC News

India is one of the largest producers of coal in the world and more than half of its commercial energy needs are met by coal.

But unregulated mining has caused serious health and environmental issues, and led to growing conflicts between elephants and humans.

In the coal-rich central state of Chhattisgarh, for example, fly ash has caused respiratory problems and serious illnesses like tuberculosis among people, but their troubles don’t end there.

Forests are being cleared for coal mining and wild elephants are entering villages in search of food and attacking people.

Photojournalist Subrata Biswas has documented the fallout of India’s dependence on coal.

“As thousands of acres of forest land are destroyed to mining, foraging elephants attracted by the crops in the fields often enter villages, resulting in an alarmingly high number of human-elephant conflict situations,” says Biswas.

Officials estimate elephants have been responsible for 8,657 incidents of property damage and 99,152 incidents of crop damage in Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2014.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“We were sleeping when the elephants broke into our room. Somehow we managed to escape but I fractured my left leg when a large part of the wall fell on my leg. My husband saved my life,” says Rujri Khalkho, 70, whose home was damaged by a herd of wild elephants almost a year ago.

A compensation of 10,000 rupees ($149; £114) has not been enough to repair her house or pay for her medical care.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Deaths of elephants due to electrocution have become common in the state.In Dharamjaigarh, the most affected area, officials have recorded 30 elephant and 75 human deaths so far.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

In 2009, Kanti Bai Sau, 40, lost her home and farm to an open-cast coal mine.

She was promised compensation of 200,000 rupees ($2,980; £2,290) and a job to a family member, but received neither. Her son died last year of respiratory complications.

“There is no fresh air to breath, fresh water to drink. Coal has usurped everything here.”

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“We lived next to this mine for almost 10 years and watched helplessly as our wells went dry, forests disappeared and fields become unproductive,” says Girja Bai Chauhan.

“We have lost almost eight acres of our fields to the mine and authorities haven’t fulfilled a single promise they made while acquiring land. They sent us into a dark future and unhealthy environment to live and breathe in.”

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Pipelines carry fly ash slurry from a local thermal power power plant in Korba to a fly ash pond.

Environment activists say that every year approximately 50 million tonnes of fly ash is generated by power plants in Chhattishgarh but not even the half of this amount have been reutilized to reduce the pollution from fly ash.

Fly ash is known to contain trace elements such as arsenic, barium and mercury among others, and unlined ponds like this could be polluting groundwater by leaching.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

“The ash is everywhere. When the wind blows, everything is coated with a layer of white grey ash. The road, ponds, our houses, sometimes even our spectacles get coated with a fine layer of the ash,” says Biswas.

Image copyrightSUBRATA BISWAS

Rohit Rathia, 55, suffers from tuberculosis.He lives in a village next to an open cast mine where lung diseases such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), silicosis and tuberculosis have become common ailments.

Source: The human and animal costs of India’s unregulated coal industry – BBC News

29/09/2016

China punishes coal, steel companies for violating pollution, safety rules | Reuters

China’s state planner has punished hundreds of coal and steel companies by forcing them to close or cut output for violating environmental and safety regulations, the latest effort to crack down on the country’s heavily polluting industries.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) forced two steel companies to shut completely, 29 firms to halt production and another 23 to curb output, it said in a statement on Thursday. The closures and curbs followed a nationwide inspection of more than 1,000 steel makers in the world’s top producer.

Among more than 4,600 coal mines inspected, the NDRC has revoked safety certificates for 28 coal mines and forced another 286 coal mines to halt production, it added.

The planner did not identify or name the companies, or give details on how the companies broke the rules and how long the penalties will be in place.

Beyond the safety and environment rules, the NDRC also listed other infractions such as violations of energy consumption rules or quality standards.

The statement reflects the government’s continued push to force ageing mills and mines to comply with tough new pollution rules by meeting emission standards and installing appropriate monitoring equipment.

China’s unwieldy coal and steel industries are considered two of the biggest sources of pollution in the country.

The government is targeting coal output cuts of 500 million tonnes in the next three to five years.

Source: China punishes coal, steel companies for violating pollution, safety rules | Reuters

29/09/2016

This Map Shows the Severity of India’s Pollution Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

A new map from the World Health Organization shows just how bad India’s air pollution problem is.

The interactive map, which shows the average levels of dangerous particulate matter in the air that can lodge in lungs and cause diseases, was made by the WHO in conjunction with the U.K.’s University of Bath.

It shows that 92% of the world’s population live in places where air quality is worse than the WHO’s recommended limits.Researchers used satellite data as well as information from ground stations to create the map. WHO data released in May showed that the city of Gwalior was India’s most polluted city, coming second in the world to Zabol in Iran.

The map plots levels of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in the air. The darker the red on the map, the higher the concentration. The PM2.5 pollutants, which come from dust, soot and smoke, can penetrate deep into the lungs and increase the risk of heart and lung diseases including asthma and lung cancer.

The map paints a dark swathe of red across northern India, meaning that the annual average PM2.5 levels are above 70. The country gets progressively lighter in color toward the south, indicating lower pollution levels. But not one spot of the country is green–indicating healthy air.

A man sifted through trash at a massive garbage site in New Delhi, Sept. 27, 2016. PHOTO: SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

India’s capital, New Delhi, is the 11th worst polluted in the world, with an annual average PM2.5 measurement of 122. Mumbai is another hotspot, with an average PM.2.5 level of 63.

The World Health Organization said that worldwide, around 3 million people a year die of causes linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution and that nearly 90% of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In India, air pollution comes from a number of sources, including the burning of trash, the use of coal for cooking, factories and exhaust fumes. In some parts of the country, like Delhi, dust storms exacerbate the problem. The Delhi government has made efforts to reduce car use, but experts say more needs to be done.

“Fast action to tackle air pollution can’t come soon enough,” Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at WHO said in the report. “Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions.”

Source: This Map Shows the Severity of India’s Pollution Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

03/08/2016

Startups hope to capitalize on the massive IoT market – Times of India

Fresh from the sale of their first venture focused on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) market, Shishir Gupta, Nithin David and Varun Gupta embarked on what they thought was their next breakthrough idea.

In mid-2013, the trio decided to devise solar air conditioners based on their previous experience in the market but, after some pilots, they discovered the idea was commercially unviable.

From the ashes of their second enterprise, they did manage one small gain — a connected controller that reduced energy use by 30% during the night. Using this, they pushed their entrepreneurial energy in a new direction — towards the rapidly emerging opportunity in the internet of things (IoT) , or devices and objects that send and receive data over the internet. Rather than build large systems for this, their new venture Oakter is thinking much smaller. It is building out a series of IoT-based devices to “smarten” homes across India.

In around two years of operation, Oakter’s controllers have smartened some 10,000 gadgets, claims Shishir Gupta, without disclosing the number of homes his controllers have been installed in currently. The startup’s full launch hasn’t even happened, he says, since it is still reaching out informally to consumers. Around Diwali this year, Oakter is expected to make a big-bang offline launch and expects to reach 10,000 homes in a year and revenues of Rs 100 crore by 2018-19.

“Within 10 years, IoT will transform the way we manage our lives,” says Shishir. There are plenty of data points to back his enthusiasm. In 2008 itself, there were more objects connected to the internet than people, and technology researcher Gartner forecasts that by 2020 there will be nearly 21 billion connected devices. If the ATM was perhaps the first popular connected device in the early 1970s, hundreds of companies have since shown an interest in getting wired up.

IoT’s the Thing

In the US, the largest technology market, there has been a mixed response to various kinds of IoT. According to CB Insights, a tracker of this kind of deal data, deal volume is on track to surpass 2015’s total by 30%. Fundingwise, 2016 should be a robust year for IoT in the West, and the second year in a row of $1.2 billion-plus in funding. Several startups in the field raised significant amount of funding, including IoT software and services company Greenwave Systems ($45 million Series C), commercial drone developer Airware ($30 million Series C), and connected HVAC and lighting company Enlighted ($25 million Series D financing).However, deal flow looked less upbeat on a quarterly basis, with both value and volume declining in the second quarter of 2016. After an increase in the first quarter with 54 transactions, deal-making fell 26% quarter-over-quarter. And funding fell from $328 million to $325 million — a 9% quarter-on-quarter decline. At a global level, there is massive potential.

According to a statement from Gartner’s research chief Peter Sondergaard, the incremental revenue generated by IoT suppliers is estimated to reach $309 billion per year by 2020. This growth opens up new business opportunities, as half will be attributed to new startups and 80% will be in services, not products. Manufacturing, healthcare and insurance are expected to lead the IoT race.

Some of this entrepreneurial interest is being generated in India, too. For example, in May this year, Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital (EVC), an early stage investor, launched a $50 million unit to focus on IT.

Qualcomm Ventures, the VC arm of the global chipmaker, recently unveiled its $150 million India fund and made its first investment of $10 million in healthcare IoT venture Attune Technologies. In early July, a centre of excellence for IoT was launched jointly by software industry lobby Nasscom, the department of electronics and information technology and the Education and Research Network. This centre can house up to 40 startups and the model is expected to be replicated nationwide.

Source: Startups hope to capitalize on the massive IoT market – Times of India

08/06/2016

This Is How Many Years Air Pollution Will Cut From Your Life Expectancy in India – India Real Time – WSJ

Living in India’s capital city New Delhi could shorten your life by six years because of the intensity of the air pollution there, a new report says.

Inhaling tiny air pollutants reduces the life expectancy of Indians by an average of 3.4 years, with Delhi residents losing 6.3 years, the most of all states, according to a new study by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Those living in West Bengal and Bihar, which have high levels of air pollution, face a reduction in life expectancy of 6.1 years and 5.7 years respectively.

The study, which used data from the latest population census of 2011, found that exposure to particulate matter 2.5 results in 570,000 premature deaths each year with an additional 12,000 caused by exposure to ozone.PM 2.5 is tiny particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The air pollutants, originating from dust, soot and smoke, can penetrate deep into the lungs, increasing the risk of heart and lung diseases.

Source: This Is How Many Years Air Pollution Will Cut From Your Life Expectancy in India – India Real Time – WSJ

31/05/2016

China releases new action plan to tackle soil pollution | Reuters

China aims to curb worsening soil pollution by 2020 and stabilize and improve soil quality by 2030, the cabinet said in an action plan published on Tuesday.

The central government will set up a special fund to tackle soil pollution, as well as a separate fund to help upgrade technology and equipment in the heavy metal sector, the cabinet said in a statement on its website (www.gov.cn).

The government will also continue to eliminate outdated heavy metal capacity, the cabinet said.

Last year, the environment minister said 16 percent of China’s soil exceeded state pollution limits. Treatment costs for heavy metal or chemical contamination are high, and China has struggled to attract private funds for soil remediation.

According to Reuters calculations, the cost of making all of China’s contaminated land fit for crops or livestock would be around 5 trillion yuan ($760 billion), based on average industry estimates of the cost of treating one hectare.

Analysts have estimated the soil remediation market could be worth as much as 1 trillion yuan, but authorities have struggled to determine who should pay for rehabilitating contaminated land. Much of the responsibility for the costs now lies with impoverished local governments.

Researchers with Guohai Securities said earlier this year that there are currently 100 key soil remediation projects under way in China with an estimated total cost of 500 billion yuan. With no natural profit motive to encourage private companies to get involved, the clean-up programs have relied mostly on government funding.

China’s five-year plan published in March said the country would give priority to cleaning up contaminated soil used in agriculture. It promised also to strengthen soil pollution monitoring systems and promote new clean-up technologies.

Lawmakers said during the annual session of parliament in March that the country would introduce legislation to help tackle soil pollution by next year.

Companies involved in the sector include Beijing Orient Landscape and Ecology, Tus-Sound Environmental Resources, Beijing Originwater Technology and Guangxi Bossco Environmental Protection Technology.

($1 = 6.5836 Chinese yuan)

Source: China releases new action plan to tackle soil pollution | Reuters

25/05/2016

China to replace direct coal combustion with electricity in new plan | Reuters

China will reduce the amount of coal burned directly in industrial furnaces and residential heating systems in order to tackle a major source of smog, the country’s energy regulator said on Wednesday.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a joint announcement with other government bodies that around 700 million to 800 million tonnes of coal is burned directly in China every year, much of it in the countryside, where access to electricity is limited.

Directly burned coal amounts to about 20 percent of China’s total coal consumption volume, much higher than the 5 percent rate in Europe and the United States.

China will aim to replace direct burning with electricity, including renewable power as well as ultra-low emission coal-fired generators, the NEA said.

China currently relies on coal for around 64 percent of its total primary energy needs and for three-quarters of its total power generation. Emissions from the direct combustion of coal are around five times higher than those from coal-fired power plants, which are subject to strict anti-pollution regulations.

During the 2016-2020 period, China plans to raise electricity’s share of the country’s overall energy mix to 27 percent, up about 1.5 percentage points from now and raising total power consumption by around 450 billion kilowatt-hours a year, the NEA said.

Experts have estimated that China will need an additional 600 GW of coal-fired power capacity over the 2015-2030 period in order to replace direct coal combustion.

Source: China to replace direct coal combustion with electricity in new plan | Reuters

19/04/2016

Will Delhi’s Extreme Traffic Restrictions Have an Impact on Air Pollution This Time? – India Real Time – WSJ

Delhi has implemented severe restrictions on which cars are allowed on the road again in hopes of combating the megacity’s horrendous air-pollution problem.

Volunteers remind commuters the reason for restriction placed on vehicle movement in New Delhi, India, Friday, April 15, 2016.

Similar air-clearing measures had mixed results during the peak Winter smog season but this time citizens are hoping for better results.

For the two weeks starting April 15, most cars in the Indian capital will only be allowed on the roads every other weekday. In the so-called odd-even program, cars with license plate numbers that end in odd numbers are allowed on the roads on odd-numbered days and Sundays while cars with even license plate numbers are allowed on even days and Sundays. For the first few days of the plan most offices and schools were closed for a string of national holidays and the weekend, so Monday is the true test of whether the restrictions are working.

Delhi to Revive Odd-Even Restrictions to Battle Pollution “Today is the litmus test for the odd-even plan. Like the last time, we all need to cooperate to make it a success,” Delhi’s Transport Minister Gopal Rai tweeted from his verified account on Monday. There are 2.6 million private cars and almost 5 million motorcycles and scooters registered in Delhi, according to the latest figures from the capital’s Transport Ministry.

There are many exceptions to the regulations, meaning the number of cars on the streets will not be slashed by half. Women driving alone or with children, disabled drivers, emergency services, cars with diplomatic plates and motorcyclists are all exempt from the restrictions as are military vehicles and taxis.

Source: Will Delhi’s Extreme Traffic Restrictions Have an Impact on Air Pollution This Time? – India Real Time – WSJ

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