Remarks by Ambassador Kenneth I. Juster at the Signing of MoU Among the Government of Punjab, Virgo Corporation, and Honeywell


Thank you Chief Minister Singh for the invitation to join you today.  It is a pleasure to be here to celebrate the collaboration among the Government of Punjab, Virgo Corporation, and Honeywell.

As you know, the Government of India launched in January its National Clean Air Programme to address the challenges posed by air pollution in various parts of the country.  This program recognizes that the quality of our air has a profound impact on our well-being – both physical and emotional.  Fresh air can invigorate us and give us great pleasure and joy.  But polluted air can be detrimental to our health and our longevity.

This is why today’s ceremony is so important.  The Memorandum of Understanding being signed is part of a landmark project to transform crop stubble into biofuel.  This project underscores the commitment of the United States to work with India to reduce air pollution.  In fact, I am pleased to say that the U.S. Embassy’s Foreign Commercial Service identified a specific U.S. technology that can convert the stubble from rice paddies into biofuel.  And we actually connected the U.S. and Indian companies here today.  When companies and governments come together, share resources and expertise, and develop new and innovative approaches, the potential benefits to society can be substantial.  Our collaboration can bring about sustainable solutions and positive change.

U.S.-India Cooperation on Air Quality

The United States has developed governmental, academic, and commercial expertise in our own decades-long effort to improve air quality.  We welcome the opportunity to support India’s efforts to reduce air pollution.

Our two countries already collaborate on a range of matters relating to the environment, energy, and medical research.  Several U.S. and Indian academic and research institutions have partnered to build capacity in air quality monitoring and source apportionment, environmental health, and alternative energy.  The Indian Council of Medical Research, and many other organizations in India, are working on air pollution and health with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.  Together, they aim to assess and reduce household use of solid fuels for cooking and heating, and to better understand and seek to prevent the adverse health effects of ambient air pollution.

The U.S. Agency for International Development also has a long-standing partnership with India that supports clean air, a healthy environment, energy security, and economic growth.  Some of their programs help to develop techniques that improve the quality and transparency of industrial emissions data, and support efforts to develop and expand the use of cleaner cookstoves.

The Contribution of U.S. Companies and Technology

In addition to academic and research partnerships, U.S. companies have made significant contributions in this area.  They have developed innovative technologies that mitigate industrial emissions, reduce air pollution, and improve ambient indoor air quality.  Many U.S. companies are working with Indian business partners, through licensing agreements and transfers of technology, to build and design cutting-edge solutions to solve the most urgent challenges related to the industrial use of water and energy resources.

I am especially pleased that Honeywell will be the key technology partner in this project.  India’s Virgo Corporation developed the overall vision of collecting and utilizing Punjab’s crop stubble as biomass to produce energy.  When Virgo approached a member of our U.S. Foreign Commercial Service to inquire about possible technology suppliers, we identified the innovative technology developed by Honeywell.  This technology, which will effectively transform crop stubble into biofuel, represents the best of what America can offer.  We also recognize the Government of Punjab for its commitment in facilitating partnerships such as this, which promote the well-being of the people of this State and strengthen the ties between our two countries.


In closing, let me congratulate to the Government of Punjab, Virgo Corporation, and Honeywell on this important collaborative milestone.  This project is a potential game-changer.  Hopefully, it will encourage the farmers of North India to refrain from burning stubble in the fields, while also contributing to the Government of India’s national fuel blending targets.

I wish you all every success in this endeavor.

Thank you very much.