Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tezpur is the Among the Clean Cities

The small city of Tezpur in the tea region of Assam has become India’s cleanest city and its residents are breathing easier because of it. Here, since the last WHO air-quality report in 2014, PM10 pollution, caused by dust particles, has been reduced by close to 85 percent — a vast improvement in a country that has been focusing on rapid urbanization and industrial development. The residents of Tezpur have only themselves to thank for this. Over the years, they’ve been making conscious efforts to go green. Trees are being planted, waste is segregated into either organic and inorganic, trucks are being re-routed out of the city center, and residents are speaking up about their environment. But crucially, the local industry has cut back on or switched entirely away from coal to cleaner energy.

CNN’s “Eco Solutions” visited the Matiapahar tea plantation during the harvest season and witnessed the change first hand. Here, heavy duty machinery that had been powered by coal now runs on liquefied petroleum gas. Even though LPG is produced from fossil fuels, it produces virtually no particulate pollution compared to burning coal. In other words, it’s basically smoke free.

Arabhinda Bhattacharjyam, the manager at Matiapahar Tea Garden, tells us it’s a win-win for the environment, the workers inside the factory, and for the product itself. “We have used liquefied petroleum gas since 2002,” he says. “Now the quality of the tea is much better. Now we are selling good quality tea in the market.” With cleaner air, the quality of the tea improved and the price of tea jumped from 45 to 67 rupees per kilo – making LPG a sound environmental and business decision. In fact, the move has become so popular that 40 tea gardens in Assam have entirely dispensed with coal, using LPG as their main source of fuel. These efforts go beyond tea gardens. Stone cutting mills and waste paper mills, some of the main industries of Tezpur, have found ingenious ways of controlling air pollution. In the former, water is sprinkled every six hours to contain dust particles. In the latter, rice husks – which are locally available, 30 percent cheaper than coal, and do not emit a high amount of particulate matter – are being used as fuel.

Read the full article @ The Diplomat

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