Smog is a persistent problem in the Capital and adjoining areas during winter. Those from the slums suffer the most as they burn wood logs to save themselves from the chilling weather. However, this makes pollution condition worse. To handle the situation, Abhinav Agarwal, a class 12 student from Delhi has created a fire log from wastes which can be used for cooking and heating purposes and reduce the pollution or smoke generation. He creates fire logs out of sawdust and wax.
“In 2017, I saw too much smoke from a slum dwelling. People were burning tyres to get heat. I started thinking about creating an alternative for these people,” Agarwal said.
After talking to his domestic help, he realised street dwellers often find it hard to arrange proper material to burn. This 18-year-old started collecting wax from leftover candles and sawdust from a nearby furniture market. “I melted the wax and made a fire log by adding sawdust to it. This not only is ignitable but also creates negligible smoke,” he said.
Agrawal develops the logs at home. With help of his chemistry teacher, he has set-up an apparatus which allows him to develop nearly 20 logs in a matter of three hours. Earlier, he had found it hard to convince people to replace their normal fodder but slowly, his logs have started finding takers. Looking at his passion, his neighbours have started participating in his mission.
Abhinav’s school presented his project in the Harvard Model United Nations conference organised last year by Worldview Education and the Harvard International Relations Council as part of the ‘Act2Impact’ initiative. This initiative gave him chance to connect with a larger community.
“Earlier, not many people were comfortable changing their regular habits. I started by catering to houses with children stating as it was easier to convince them stating that it would be beneficial for their child’s health. After using the logs I got feedback of lesser cough from people. My school and neighbourhood have also joined the cause now when they observe visibly less pollution,” he adds.
Abhinav will be leaving the country to pursue engineering abroad. He has already received call from Imperial College, London and is awaiting responses from other institutes as well. His initiative will, however, be taken over by his friends.
“My friends and neighbours have shown interest to continue the project for the time I will not be around. Even as I prepare for my board, they have started helping me in the process,” he said.