LONDON: New Delhi-based Takachar is one among five winners of the first-ever Earthshot Prizes instituted by Prince William to reward innovators with £1 million each for developing groundbreaking solutions to the world’s greatest environmental challenges. The Indian company on Sunday won the prize in the “Clean Our Air” category for its technology to create fuel, fertiliser and other speciality chemicals from agricultural waste. Takachar’s innovation aims to put an end to stubble burning, an annual scourge in north India that causes severe air pollution, including in National Capital Region. The technology will also raise farmers’ income by creating a market for crop residues. Takachar’s cheap, small-scale, portable technology can attach to tractors in remote farms and converts crop residues into sellable profitable bio-products, reducing smoke emissions by up to 98%. Besides £1 million in prize money, the firm will receive support from some of the world’s most influential companies to scale and grow. Takachar hopes to expand its operations around the world with a goal to cut a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Takachar co-founder and CEO Vidyut Mohan said, “In some parts of the world, air pollution reduces life expectancy of the population by up to nine years. All of us need to stop ignoring this problem, and act now. This award will enable us to scale our solution worldwide and help us realise our vision of reducing air pollution while creating livelihood opportunities for rural communities.” An array of stars and performers attended the “green-carpet” awards ceremony held at Alexander Palace, dressed in recycled clothes. Actress Emma Watson wore wedding attire made from 10 dresses that came from a second-hand shop. Sponsors of the prizes include the Aga Khan Development Network, Bezos Earth Fund and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Jason Knauf, CEO of the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said, “The burning of agricultural waste is one of the biggest drivers of city air pollution, but it doesn’t get the global attention the issue needs. Takachar’s game-changing solution presents a way to not only eradicate the air pollution that would otherwise be created by burning, but to do so profitably in a way that benefits farmers. They have shown great leadership in one of the areas worst-hit by air pollution, which we hope will inspire others. Takachar has shown that India’s innovators have what it takes to solve India’s environmental challenges.” Every year, till 2030, £1 million each will go to five selected projects.

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