On National Pollution Control Day today, we are reminded that India has the world’s worst air pollution. Home to 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, the toxic air here kills more than one million people each year. Our cities don’t score too well on water, noise, plastic and land pollution either. As per the estimation of the Central Pollution Control Board, India generates more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, out of which nearly 40% remains uncollected and littered in the environment. The primary reason for these sky- touching numbers is economic development, resulting in higher demand for goods in the FMCG sector.
While the government and its agencies like the Central Pollution Control Board – as well as the various state pollution control boards – are working in partnership with the private sector, Indian innovators and entrepreneurs are doing their duty as responsible citizens to prevent and tackle pollution at various levels. Their enterprises and startups could usher in a cleaner India.
1. Breath Easy
In the 1990s, environmental activist and entrepreneur Kamal Meattle became allergic to Delhi’s air. His doctors told him his lung capacity had been reduced to 70%. If he didn’t change something, the air would kill him. Instead of fleeing Delhi, Meattle sprung into action.
Using natural plants and a high-quality mechanical air filtration system, he transformed his office building in Nehru Place into a haven from the city’s increasingly toxic air. The Government of India deemed the Paharpur Business Centre one of the healthiest buildings in Delhi. But the air outside kept getting worse. Meattle’s son-in-law Barun Aggarwal, an entrepreneur who had used office space at the Paharpur Business Centre, had witnessed Meattle’s TED talk in California in 2009 and experienced clean air in his building.
During a one-year sabbatical in 2012, Aggarwal travelled to the mountains of northern India, where he decided everyone deserved to breathe clean mountain air. He decided to start Breathe Easy. It started off as a venture focusing on large commercial buildings only. But when Aggarwal’s 3-year-old son started wheezing during a jog at Lodhi gardens, he decided more needed to be done. Building on Meattle’s work, Aggarwal set out to find the best portable air purifiers for India’s conditions. He and his team tested 28 different models across 15 stringent parameters. Six weeks after putting air purifiers in his children’s bedrooms, they stopped wheezing. The portable solutions business was born.
While studying engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, Angad Daryani from Delhi designed an outdoor purification system that removes particulate matter and other pollutants from the air. The device sucks in the polluting particles and collects them in a container, leaving clean air in its place.
After designing his first device, Daryani launched the start-up Praan in 2017 with the aim of building an affordable and versatile outdoor air purifier. Praan’s goal is to design the world’s first filterless purifier that can clean as much air as possible, while fitting onto infrastructure.
A single purification device developed by Daryani can filter 300 cubic feet of air per minute and store 11,540 cubic centimetres of pollutants. The collection chamber needs emptying every two to six months, depending on how polluted the outdoor air is. But rather than just throwing away the captured pollutants, Daryani and his team decided to make use of it. Instead, the carbon captured in the containers is given to another Indian company called Carbon Craft Design, which uses the powdered pollutants to create stylish, handcrafted decorative flooring tiles. The carbon pollutants act like a pigment that is combined with stone waste from quarries and a binding agent such as clay or cement, before being cut into delicate patterns. They are then used to create tiled floor patterns in restaurants, shops and hotels.
3. Pi Green Innovations
Pi Green Innovations is a cleantech company based out of Pune. They are solution partners to UNDP in their initiatives for Clean Air in India. They are working to combat air pollution by reducing the PM (particulate matter) from the ambient Air and also from the sources like Vehicles and Diesel Generators (DG Sets). Particulate Matter refers to extremely small particles suspended in the air. Components of PM include finely divided solids or liquids such as dust, fly ash, soot, smoke, aerosols, and fumes that can be suspended in the air for an extended period of time. PM 2.5/ PM 10 once inhaled can directly affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems.
In metro cities, one of the major contributing factors for air pollution and, perhaps, the deadliest of all pollutants is PM 2.5 because they are small enough to penetrate the lungs and even the bloodstream, leading to critical health issues. The startup’s DG set retrofit which is the Carbon Cutter Machine is designed to curb PM emissions from DG sets. They have also developed a filterless Carbon Cutter retrofit for heavy vehicles to reduce exhaust emissions.
RepAir is another product that uses a variation of the same filter-less technology to purify ambient air in large and open spaces. It can be installed in public places such as metro stations, bus stations, airports, public parks etc. RepAir also has an ultraviolet chamber that neutralises harmful bacteria and viruses from the surrounding air and helps maintain cleaner air in the vicinity.
4. CleanTech Water
Clean, drinking water is an essential life resource. It is crucial for the sustenance of life on this planet. However, water pollution is a major threat. Mostly water is laced with mineral impurities or microbial and bacterial growth that can cause several diseases. This has called for the need for sewage treatment plants and wastewater treatment. You would be surprised to know that the water that reaches your home is a result of wastewater treatment completed using sewage water treatment plants.
CleanTech Water in Ahmedabad, Gujarat offers a variety of wastewater treatment and water treatment solutions such as sewage treatment plants, grey water treatment plant, effluent water treatment plants, industrial water treatment, RO plants, pressure sand filter systems and dual media filters.