Last week, Ashoka University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship hosted the inaugural edition of the Ashoka Pillar Award, to award young talent for their innovative solutions to tackle the worsening air quality in India, at its campus in Sonepat, near Delhi. The winners, the university said, will receive Rs 6.5 lakh, Rs. 1.8 lakh and Rs. 1.4 lakh, respectively. They are Eklavya Singh (who made the EZ-Harv electric-powered combine harvester designed to prevent stubble burning), Twinkle Malhan and Aadesh Pratap Singh (who designed the Aerohealer, which uses aeroponics technology—the process of growing plants in a misty environment without the use of soil—and aloe vera plant) and Rohit Rawat (made the Green Air biotech air filter).
Offered as either as a service, rental basis or a franchise, the EZ-Harv allows farmers to safely, effectively, efficiently clear fields at an affordable rate, so they do not have to resort to stubble burning.
The Aerohealer, when installed on, say, a vertical garden on a four-storey building, is claimed to filter 40 tonnes of GHGs and process 15 kg of harmful heavy metals, including PM 2.5. For the pilot, the Aerohealer will be installed on metro pillars in Delhi in the form of vertical gardens with aloe vera plantation. The Green Air filter consists of moss for maximum surface area, controlled ventilation, automated irrigation, IoT, energy provision and cooling effect, and can bring down pollutant levels using vertical forests.
Other solutions included the VARNAK, designed by Anand Waghmare and Heer Shah, which is an electrostatic precipitator, and is claimed to reduce the concentration of particulate matter and other pollutants in the air; Happy Seeder by Prabhat Kumar, an alum of Ashoka University, is a solution that can prevent stubble burning by creating an enabling ecosystem for a technology shift; and lastly Sanya Sardana and Christie Deepa, Young India Fellowship students, proposed an ecosystem to incentivise stubble removal through government-devised policy measures, encourage commercialisation of bale as a means of generating additional revenue, and assemble a dream team to supplement the ecosystem.