Category Archives: My take

Air Pollution in Trivandrum – Issues and Solutions

What is air pollution?

“Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants.” (National Geographic)]

Trivandrum’s Air Quality Index for November 7, 2018 is 134. (AQICN.org)

How is it harmful?

Apart from the obvious breathing issues it can cause, including bronchitis, “conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution”; further, it can cause “long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.”

Having observed the issue keenly during my stay in this city, I have identified three main sources of localized air pollution :

  1. Open burning of waste
  2. Dust from unkempt and broken roads and muddy lanes
  3. Exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles.

These three sources, if left unchecked, have tremendous potential to pollute the city to the level people feel uncomfortable walking in the open. This is despite the green cover, that this city, has at present.

Another upcoming source of air pollution is the unmanaged and ever increasing construction activities.

As Kerala is being rebuilt and the state endeavors to retain its natural charm, it is very important for administration and residents to be aware of these dangers.

What are the solutions at hand?

  1. To minimize burning of waste, people need to be made aware of the harms of open burning of waste and be incentivized to separate recyclable waste.
  2. Buyers of recyclable waste needs to be roped in to collect it from the residential and commercial units at regular intervals.
  3. A separate community awareness drive needs to be initiated towards reducing use of one-time plastic.
  4. People need to be educated on composting of wet waste.
  5. Municipal corporation/municipality/village panchayat needs to step in to enforce rules for stopping open burning of waste.
  6. To minimize dust from unkempt roads and muddy lanes, municipal corporation/ municipality/village panchayat need to ensure watering of roads and regular cleaning. At a comprehensive level, scientific planning and construction of roads needs to be undertaken.
  7. To minimize exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles, regular inspection of vehicles (made possible through yearly or biannual registration check) and imposing fines at the spot by traffic police personnel (or better, a specially deployed “pollution control personnel”) on erring vehicles are possible solutions.
  8. At the government level, all subsidies on diesel should be reduced (except a few sensitive categories like water pumps for farmers) as it is the most polluting fuel. Specially for public carriers, such engines must be designed which are low maintenance, high performing, and least polluting.

All need to work towards it…individuals, private players, administration, and Government.

 

 

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Why open burning should be discouraged in Trivandrum, and other places?

Hi…I was so happy to see the view from our balcony—only natural beauty and no smoke fumes coming from between the trees.

This is a rare sight, I must tell. Our house lies beyond the Municipal range in Trivandrum, Kerala. In this area, people in stand-alone houses burn their household waste in the open.

This practice is so prevalent that it can potentially be a major air pollution issue.

Further, it is not so only in the areas outside the Municipal range. Even in the main city, this practice is followed. Even though it is an age-old practice to burn waste in the open, the issue becomes serious in today’s times as waste has a dangerous mix of wet items and plastics, among others. When burnt in open conditions, it releases gases and particles – it can adversely affect the respiratory system and contribute to global warming, respectively.

The more the practice is followed, the more implications it will have for public health as well as environment. It needs to be replaced by an alternative waste management strategy.

The question is that how can individuals be convinced to change to an eco-friendly waste management way?  The municipal corporations or gram panchayats need to step in.

Waste segregation, and thereafter, collection and disposal, is the way out. A ‘carrot and stick policy’ will help.

While the first step needs to be performed at the household level, the remaining two steps must be performed by public sector, private sector, or both.

Both, public and environmental health need to be accorded top priority.

When the national emphasis is rightly placed on “Swachh Bharat”, thanks to our PM, we need to have a “Swachh Trivandrum” as well.

Thiruvananthapuram’s two faces of sustainability…!

Growing environmental awareness on one hand, evident by markings on roads and public places…while fumes smelling of mixed garbage, emanating now and then from between the lush green cover…these are the two contrasting scenes as one travels around Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum), the capital city of Kerala.

While initiatives like the Red FM Plastic Challenge are aiming at creating awareness on recycling plastics, plastics are being mixed up in household garbage and burnt up…

We have initiatives by the Corporation of Trivandrum, like the Green Army, Green Protocol, bio-composting bins and others , which are meant for including all sections of the society into the process of solid waste management. Further, all major supermarkets promote use of cloth bags while use of plastics for the purpose of packing and carrying stuff have been minimized. (Source: Corporation of Trivandrum)

These developments show that even though waste management in Thiruvananthapuram is not ideal, the city still has a chance to save itself from going down the way, like most other Indian metros… It can still be a city NOT weighed down by its own waste!

 

Life is all about change…

Well, it was about an year back when we moved back from a foreign land to India, our home country, specifically to Mumbai.

Mumbai is a vibrant city with lights, colors, opportunities, and of course, lots of people :)! Time flew by, as I got into the process of making adjustments for myself and family…be it in terms of work or caring for children or helping them adjust in new environment at home and school…not to forget, participation and enjoyment in multiplicity of festivals and social events.

However,  travelling in Mumbai felt like a challenge due to air pollution and poor quality of roads. Local trains are still the most efficient mode of commutation…yet, they are reserved only for the millions of  brave-hearts commuting daily, especially during rush hours.

My children faced ups and downs in the process of growing up…and I must admit, some phases were particularly difficult, this year.

The new school of my daughter was not up to the mark. Sadly, everywhere, the schools being not up to mark has become a trend, rather than an exception. As a parent, I tried to proactively collaborate with school authorities to make necessary improvements.

My other child started going to playschool. However, it was tough for him…and needless to say, for me to get him adjusted! After a month or so, things started looking up!

I took up a ‘work from home’ freelancing work opportunity! However, while freelancing gives the flexibility required by a mother with two small kids to take care of, it is also difficult as there is no ‘free time’, one can reclaim for work purpose. Somehow, slowly, things improved.

And, while all this was happening, we shifted to a new city! 🙂

Basically, two years, 2 countries and 3 cities…Life is all about change…! Looking forward to another fascinating journey of life…

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, the 25th of March, 2017, is Earth Hour, 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Dear Friends, today, at the above mentioned hour, people from as much as 178 countries, may come together to switch off non-essential lights and power equipments. The idea is to show that we care for our planet and our sustainable living. It may be just a symbolic gesture, given the short span of ‘switching off’…It may lead to limited power savings, as some would argue; others would say that we would need to do much more that just this…I agree, but in this one hour, we get a time to ponder- how important it is to save electricity from fossil fuels; and how each one of us can directly reduce carbon emissions and limit Climate change.

So I am going to try switch off at 8:30 PM for an hour…!

Got something to repair?- Meet the new age ‘home services marketplace’ in India

This article is for all who are living in metros and big cities of India…who are tech-savvy, time-pressed, quality conscious – We all need to repair our stuff, be it appliances, plumbing, electrician work and so on. More often than not, we are forced to select the handymen who we know nothing about and who may charge a bomb for even low-quality work. Now sites like Urbanclap, Housejoy etc boast of providing trusted service providers at the click of a button for all our home needs including repair and maintenance.

In this article, I talk of 9 of such ‘super startups’ who have made a place from themselves in the field. Please go through this article and share if you like it!

Why Repair?
When we repair our broken-down stuff, it is good for our pocket and our larger pocket, ‘the Environment’. How? Repairing gives a second life to our stuff. This means that the stuff would not end up as waste as yet, so waste is reduced. And since the demand for a new stuff has not been created as yet, there would be lesser extraction of natural resources. This is good news for our Environment.
Fortunately, in today’s world, connecting to repair service providers is lot easier than before. Actually, it is online.

This blog gives the details of all the online service marketplaces in India.

Encyclopedia of Online Repair-service Marketplaces in India.
The firms listed below are web and/or mobile-based platforms in the business of connecting customers to verified, good quality repair service providers end to end. Another name of this class of firms is ‘On demand home services providers’. Most of the firms claim to have background-checked verified professionals as service providers; and through website and/or mobile application, customers can book the service provider for the desire service, and pay for transaction online or offline. Generally, the customer authentication is done through his/her mobile number.
However, the reach in terms of customers, the quality of service providers, the ease of transaction, pricing and new schemes or offers, differentiate one from the other. The order of companies in this article is purely alphabetical.
(Disclaimer – The facts quoted in the article are mostly from the Companies’ websites or from sources stated and readers are advised to cross-check the information before making decisions/judgements)

1.     Bro4U

2.     Helpr

3.     Hometriangle

4.     Housejoy

5.     Localoye

6.     Taskbob

7.     Timesaverz

8.     Urbanclap 

9.     Zimmber
Read below to see which of them cater to your city.

1.        Bro4U
https://bro4u.com/
This firm is in the business of providing a host of home services to the customers. On its website, ‘Repair and Home Maintenance’ is the first category of services. It was founded by Pramod Hegde and Rajath KR in 2015[1]. It currently serves in Bengaluru and plans to extend in some more cities. Repair services offered are Plumbers, Carpenters, Electricians, Computer Services, Mobile Repair, AC Repair and Services, Kitchen Appliances Repair and Home Appliances Repair. The contact number is 08030323232. The services can be availed through the website or the App. Latter can be downloaded from both App Store and Google Play. Payment can be made online before or after the service.
2.     Helpr
https://www.helpr.in/
Another on-demand home services market place, it is on both platforms – web and mobile (as an app). Co-founded by Vijay, Vignesh and Rajesh in 2015[2], it serves five cities – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Coimbatore. It offers several home services, including which are repair services, which specifically include – Electrical, Plumbing, Appliances, Carpentry, Appliance Repair, Carpentry, Geyser Service, Vehicle Care and Computer repair. The contact number is 7676-000-300. Its app is available at both App store and Google Play.
Payments can be made either directly to the Provider upon completion of his/her services or through the Website/App. (According to their website)
For most services, it offers free guaranteed service in case of recurrence of issue within 10 days. It further claims ‘professional and highly experienced staff & transparent pricing’.
As a differentiating feature, it has several subscriptions, some of which are specific to ‘Home Repair’ and ‘Appliance Care’.
3.     Hometriangle
https://hometriangle.com/
This firm was co-founded by Ramesh Chincholi, Dhirendra Prasad and Manohar Negi in the year 2014[3]. It serves in 7 cities – Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune.
Focusing on home improvement services, this company also gives a range of repair services. Among the repair services offered are plumbing, carpentry, electricians, Appliance services and Handymen. The contact number is 7676000100.
Services can be availed both through Website and App (available currently on Google Play).
Their website very proudly claims to have their ‘professionals’ having gone through identity and criminal record checks. Also every job is insured up to Rs.10000. They also claim to have verified reviews which is not a feature with some other companies.
4.     Housejoy
www.housejoy.in
Co-founded by Sunil Goel and Arjun Kumar in 2014-2015[4][5], Housejoy offers a host of local home services.
Cities they serve in are Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi & NCR and Gurgaon.
Specifically, repair services include repair of appliances including refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines; car and motorbike servicing; Plumbing; Electrical and Carpentry & computer, laptop and printer repair.
Based in Bengaluru, the contact number is 1860-123-4569. To access the service, one can visit its website or the app (HJ app). App is available on Google Play and App store, which the company claims is more user-friendly.
Their ‘certified experts’ come up to doorstep and do the repair. Process according to them to avail the services involves ‘Book, Schedule and Relax’. The company offers a ‘Housejoy Guarantee’ – Insurance amount which varies from service to service.
Payment for services are to be made before or after the service, through cash or online payment options like including credit card, debit card and net banking.
Among the special features on their website are offers & deals.
5.     Localoye
www.localoye.com
This ‘services marketplace’ online firm is servicing currently in Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Mumbai, New Delhi and Noida. Services are available over website and Android app available on Google Play. It was founded by Aditya Rao in 2013[6].
Among the host of local home and other services offered are also repair services. The latter include AC Repairs and Services, Apple Device Repairs, Car servicing, computer repairs and services, Electricians, Fridge Repairs, Laptop Repairs and Services, Microwave Repairs, Plumbers, TV Repairs and Services, Washing Machine Services and Water Purifier Repair and Services. Repair services for Offices include AC and Laptop Repair.
According to them, the process of availing services through them is ‘Give your requirements – Get customized quotes – Hire the Best’
They even give ‘1-week post service guarantee (not applicable on purchased materials)’.
6.     Taskbob
https://www.taskbob.com/
It is a Mumbai based start-up which offer repair services as a part of a basket of other home services. It provides services in different parts of Mumbai. It was founded by Aseem Khare, Abhiroop Medhekar, Ajay Bhatt and Amit Chahalia in the year 2015.[7] Among the repair services offered are Electrician, Plumber, Carpenter, Appliance Repair and AC Repair. The contact number is +91-8080809019. Services can be booked over the Website or the App. Latter is available on both Google Play and App Store.
It offers a couple of subscriptions to reward its loyal customers.
7.     Timesaverz
https://www.timesaverz.com/
Founded by Debadutta Upadhyaya and Lovnish Bhatia in 2013, this came early in the space of providing local services at the customer’s doorstep from the comfort of his/her home. Their tag hash is #savetheday. It currently serves in 6 cities – Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Delhi and also Thane and Noida. In the repairs category, services offered are the following – AC, Chimney, Computer, Fridge, Microwave, Mobile, water Purifier & Washing Machine. Among the Handyman services offered are Carpentry, Electrician, Mason, Plumbing, and Water proofing.
Customer contact number is 9022711888. Services can be availed through the website or mobile App, latter available both at App Store and Google Play. Payment can be made before or after the service.
They display offers/discounts on the website. Another interesting thing is the annual subscription packages – Diamond, Gold, Silver and Bronze which convert to discounts, free inspections, higher rated service partners etc. for regular customers. As the name indicates, they give emphasis to ‘Turn Around Time (TAT)’ and have introduced a reward program of ‘Earn Minutes’.
8.     Urbanclap 
www.urbanclap.com
Abhiraj Bhal, Raghav Chandra and Varun Khaitan founded this company in the year 2014. It is a mobile marketplace helping customers hire ‘trusted professionals’ for their repair and other local service needs. According to their website, this is how it works – ‘Choose the service’; ‘Browse and Book’ the professionals after exploring their photos, reviews and videos; Chat to finalize details with the professionals and hire; and that is about it! It is currently servicing in 16 Indian cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Secunderabad.  
The Repairs domain includes Electricians, Plumber, Carpenter, Mobile Repair, AC Service and Repair, Laptop Repair, Microwave Repair, Refrigerator Repair, Washing Machine Repair, Water Purifier Repair, Apple Product Repair & Geyser/Water Heater Repair.
The Urbanclap mobile app is available in Google Play and App Store.
Payment Options are mainly online (debit card/credit card/Net Banking) or cash post service, before or after the completion of service according to their website.
They claim to have background-checked professionals to ensure safety and satisfaction of customers. For at-least some services, they offer a limited period service guarantee and monetary insurance against damages.
It is the fastest growing services marketplace[8]. (ET, 2016)
9.     Zimmber
www.zimmber.com
It was founded by Anubhab Goel and Amit Kumar in 2014. It is a web-based ‘aggregator platform’, which offers home services, including repair services. They specifically cater to Mumbai. ‘Zimmber champs’ as they call the service providers or professionals provide the repair services for washing machine, refrigerator, Microwave, PC & Laptop, Geyser and AC servicing along with services like carpentry, Plumbing and Electrical service.
The process of availing the service according to them involves ‘Select a service – Select Date, Time & Address – Get Confirmation and Relax’.
The app is available at Google Play and App Store.
Contact number is 8080-824-824.
After 3 days of non-complaint from customer, the request is considered closed.
Payment can be made through Zimmber web-based services (Freecharge wallet) post the service.

References

[1]http://indianstartups.co/2015/06/hyperlocal-startup-bro4u/
[2] LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vijayramkumar-veeraraghavan-13353110
[3] https://profiles.yourstory.com/organization/hometriangle.com
[4] https://www.linkedin.com/in/sunil-goel-5938616
[5] https://yourstory.com/2015/11/housejoy/
[6] http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/local-services-at-the-click-of-a-mouse-116011100017_1.html
[7] https://yourstory.com/2016/02/taskbob-funding-series_a/
[8] http://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/startups/16-startup-founders-india-2016/50401747

Thanks for reading! Do Like and share it with like-minded people!

Can We Do it – A Cleaner & Safer Diwali?

Some intuitive ways of celebrating a “Cleaner, safer and Fun Diwali” – Prayers, Sweets, meeting family members and friends, holidays and…

  • Minimizing use of fire-crackers, especially those which produce lots of smoke and noise
  • Resisting the need to over-buy – better for pockets of ourselves and Mother Nature
  • Resist over-lighting – after all, power is precious…

Can we do it? This is the question to all of us Indians. Diwali, the big festival of India, has in recent history, been associated with massive bursting of crackers, and massive pollution of air, soil and water as an aftermath. It is something which we have seen through our own eyes, in most of our lifetime.

diwali-pollution-2diwali-pollution-1

Courtesy: Pumirror.com, The Hindu

However, if we pretend we do not know about it, here are some news reports of Diwali last year.

On Diwali night, India gasped for breath – http://www.thehindu.com/data/pollution-on-diwali-night/article7872344.ece, November 13, 2015

The level of pollution reaches ‘severe’ in several cities of India where healthy people also start getting affected, leave alone people with pre-existing conditions.

Diwali: Delhi pollution ‘hits hazardous levels’ – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-34795305, November 12, 2015

Pollution in Delhi during Diwali: The harmful pollutants and their result on human lives – http://indiatoday.intoday.in/education/story/pollution-during-diwali/1/518634.html, November 7, 2015

Is that the only and best way to celebrate – by choking ourselves & our fellow people? That too, when the environmental balance is getting more and more fragile by the day? Can we have a “cleaner  & safer  Diwali”, this time?

diwali