Less smoke with fire

The report by Lancet Planetary Health published in December 2020 estimates that air pollution claimed the lives of 1.7 million in 2019 in India. Till date,1.4 lakhs have died due to Covid-19 since March 2020.While the Corona virus managed to get the entire country's health system and the state machinery in an overdrive, the insidious air pollution carried out its dastardly feat without so much as a public outcry. 

Air pollution does get attention in the national capital though, especially in winters.

Winter is when pollution peaks, because the colder air gets trapped under warmer air that rises to the top. Dangerous pollutants, like PM2.5 remain suspended at breathable levels and get inhaled by everyone. It causes severe health impacts ranging from respiratory illnesses to cardiovascular and neurological diseases, and affecting organs like the liver, kidneys, etc.


Air quality is still not a matter of alarm in other cities, though the pollution is way beyond permissible national standards. In Pune, air quality in the last week of December has been oscillating between 'moderate' to 'poor' which means there are health implications on people. Air quality management is known to be a complex issue due its multi-sector, multi- stakeholder nature. Parisar realises that the issue needs a multi-pronged approach. It engaged in one such aspect of air quality management recently, something which all of us have seen in winters around us, but probably never stopped to think twice about the air pollution angle of it. It has been observed that security guards from many housing societies across the city light fires at nights or early mornings to keep themselves warm. The quantity of pollutants emitted by these fires may seem small if looked at individually, but collectively they form a substantial amount. To mitigate these emissions,which affect the guards as well as the residents around, Parisar experimented with housing societies by providing smokeless stoves to these guards. The smokeless stove is developed by Samuchit Envirotech,an organisation focussing on sustainable innovations. 


Demonstration at KasturKunj Society in Pune

This stove uses dried leaves and twigs as fuel, which is found abundantly in this season and the smoke emitted is visibly less. The stove has other uses like heating water, and can handle even basic activities like making tea, boiling eggs and vegetables, or even roasting some eatables directly in the flames. After a trial for a couple of days, the guards confirmed that there was a visible difference in the smoke emission, while the heat factor remained the same. 

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Smokeless stove developed by Samuchit Enviro Tech

Parisar is trying to replicate this initiative in other societies as well across the city. While it would be ideal that the security guards are provided with warm clothing, mufflers etc, Parisar hopes that whether in housing societies or slums, wherever there is a need to light fires either for warmth or for any other purposes mentioned above, the polluting fires which emit these toxic pollutants are replaced with the smokeless stoves. It endeavours to seek active participation with corporates to carry out these drives under their CSR, and with RWAs to bring about more awareness on the ill effects of air pollution and switch to simple solutions for its mitigation.