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Unauthorised digging of roads irks residents

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The Hindu             29.11.2013

Unauthorised digging of roads irks residents

S.P. Saravanan

Though crores of rupees were spent by the City Municipal Corporation for repairing and relaying tar-topped roads, the condition of the roads remains pathetic as unauthorised digging of roads in residential areas for laying pipelines and sewer systems remains unchecked.

Though it is mandatory for residents to inform the civic body and pay the charges for road cutting and re-laying, the rules remain on the books as people continue to dig up roads at their convenience and never restore them to the original condition. This leaves formation of open pits and it is the road users who are left to feel the heat, says S. Ramamurthy, a resident of Mittapudur.

The situation is common in many of the residential areas as roads have been dug up for laying pipelines or to connect the house to the sewer system. On Brindavan Road, a pipeline was laid by a private individual and a speed breaker built on it so that no damage is caused to the pipes.

Though it is on one of the busiest roads in the city, it remains unchecked by officials concerned. Apart from revenue loss to the civic body, the deteriorating road condition poses hardship to road users in the areas concerned.

Stagnation of water on roads and unfinished underground sewerage works are giving bumpy rides to motorists and are also leading to accidents. When contacted, Corporation engineers told The Hindu that causing damage to roads would invite punishment and asked residents to get permission from the civic body before having any such work carried out.


Coast Guard commissions device which extracts drinking water from atmosphere

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The Times of India      22.11.2013

Coast Guard commissions device which extracts drinking water from atmosphere

PUDUCHERRY: A device which can extract pure drinking water from atmosphere was commissioned here by the Coast Guard as part of the World Fisheries and Fishermen Day celebrations on Thursday.

Puducherry district collector S B Deepak Kumar inaugurated the facility at the fishing harbour in Thengaithittu.

N Somasundaram, commanding officer of the Indian Coast Guard station in Puducherry, said the coast guard would pay Rs 4,000 per month to Chennai-based Akashganga AME India Pvt Ltd which developed the device.

The equipment, Akash Ganga, yields roughly 160 litres per day after processing moisture content in the atmospheric air. It sucks atmospheric air with the help of a fan and condenses it to extract water from moisture. It has a 12 micron air filter to filter impurities and suspended particles in the air. Apart from the filter in the suction, the equipment has three more filtration processes to ensure that the water is free from bacteria and microbes.

"Akash Ganga is a perennial solution for water crisis. The equipment, which has excellent filtration techniques, yields drinking water free of any microbes or bacteria. Contamination occurs only when water comes in contact with the earth. The equipment sucks atmospheric air, filters it at different levels and condenses it to extract water," Akashganga managing director T M Shyam Sunder told TOI.

Explaining the advantages of the technique, Sunder said the equipment does not leave any effluent. Moreover, it does not require any major source of water, and the high quantity of moisture in the air serves as the source of water. The equipment is eco-friendly as it consumes very limited ground water resource.

"It is an effort to address the over reliance on depleting ground water resources. There is no dearth of atmospheric air and humidity in any part of the world. Higher the humidity the equipment extracts more water. Even in places where the relative humidity is as less as 25%, the equipment extracts water from atmospheric air," he said.

The first unit was commissioned in the country at the Punjab Regiment Centre, Indian Army, in 2004. Akashganga AME India Pvt Ltd commissioned 16 units at the centre followed by four units at the Indian Coast Guard station in Chennai, 10 at Indian Council of Medical Research in Chennai and 12 at the Port Blair centre of the Pondicherry University. The firm has sold more than 1,000 units to individuals in several parts of the country, besides in foreign countries like Oman and Dubai.

The equipment, which costs Rs 1.6 lakh, will last for a minimum of seven to 10 years. It extracts water at destinations less than 150km to 200km from the coast. 

Last Updated on Friday, 22 November 2013 10:38

Students tap energy from scrap

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The Hindu             22.11.2013

Students tap energy from scrap

Waste not:Students from Puducherry, on Thursday, display the projects they had come up with to save energy, which have made it to the finals of this year’s edition of the National Children’s Science Congress.—Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
Waste not:Students from Puducherry, on Thursday, display the projects they had come up with to save energy, which have made it to the finals of this year’s edition of the National Children’s Science Congress.—Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

What happens to tonnes of vegetable oil that are reused in Puducherry’s many hotels, restaurants and roadside eateries? What about the old gears and metal rusting away in scrap shops? Or shavings and bones that are piled up when the fish market closes for the day?

Little thought goes into what happens to everyday residue and leftovers. But students from Puducherry schools clearly have their eyes and ears open. The selected projects that have made it from the Union Territory to the National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC) in Bhopal this year have all capitalised on discarded material, turning waste into energy and resource.

The NCSC is an annual affair that cultivates scientific temperament in school children by prompting them to apply scientific concepts to problems and issues around them over a period of three months. This year a total of 178 projects were presented from Karaikal, Mahe, Yanam and Puducherry at the district level.

From a total of 29 projects selected for State level, six have made it to the national finals, of which the top two will also get to present at the Indian Science Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mira Arabinth and his team of Class XI boys from Petit Seminaire, believe every tiny amount of energy counts. The boys have come up with a proposal to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, from the pressure exerted by vehicles when crossing the speed breakers. “This idea works better at toll gates, where there are eight lanes and multiple speed breakers, with one vehicle crossing at one time,” says Arabinth.

A contraption designed on the rack and pinion model captures, converts and stores the energy. The boys fashioned it from gear in scrap shops. “The challenge for us now is to convert this variable current into steady flow of electricity before the national-level presentation,” says Arabinth.

Around 15 watts of energy can be generated, depending on the mass of the vehicle. “Even if it burns a lamp, it is energy and can help tide power crisis,” says S. Midhune.

The youngest members among the selected teams, who finished second, are girls of Class VII from St. Patrick Matriculation School, who have tried extracting biodiesel from used vegetable oil.

“We have read biodiesel can be extracted using castor oil. We thought why not go for a more economical option by using residue vegetable oil,” says V. Nivetha.

“Some big hotels told us they sell the reused oil to petty shops for frying purposes,” says S. Subitshaa, adding that an average restaurant used up at least 40 litres per month.

The students confirmed biodiesel by testing it in a lab and used it successfully as a stain remover, says D. Beulah, guide teacher. “Now we are trying to use it in a second-hand vehicle”.

In putting scientific concepts into practice, students came across new experiences. For girls from St. Joseph School of Cluny, the project was the first time they used wood stoves, says Mahalakshmi. The team compared four variations like charcoal, pellets, firewood, sawdust of both the casuarina and blueberry wood to conclude on the most efficient source of energy. “There are a lot of villages where wood stoves are used, causing breathing and other problems,” says O. Anjana, her teammate. “Our study shows blueberry pellets are a greener, cheaper and more efficient alternative,” says Francita.

N. Narendiran and team, also from Petit Seminaire, have tried to compare the most productive resource for biogas production — prawn and fish waste or vegetable waste. “We visited the market and found that much of the waste is left as litter on road corners. By producing biogas from them, we can channel them for cooking meals in governemt hostels for mid-day meals in schools,” says Narendiran. While there was marginal difference in burning time, the team found prawn and fish waste produces gas in three days, while it takes double the time for vegetable waste.

Disadvantage government schools

The number of participating schools this year has gone down. Except for two schools in Mahe, who make up the selected six, only private institutions from Puducherry have made it to the national level. Government, rural and Tamil-medium schools figure nowhere in the top. There is need to level the playing field, feel members of the Puducherry Science Forum, the local organising body.

The question is who will spend for the projects in government schools, says K. Vijayamurthy, Liasion Officer, Puducherry Science Forum. The Education Department must motivate teachers, who in turn can motivate students, he adds.


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