By Elton Gomes
Amidst rising pollution levels in the national capital, authorities could resort to cloud seeding to induce artificial rain later this week to wash away toxic pollutants in the air.
Union Minister Mahesh Sharma said that the Centre will introduce a notification to induce artificial rain over Delhi if the situation gets worse. “Increasing menace of air pollution is a big concern for a developing country like India. The Centre has decided that if the air quality will cross 500 mark then they will ask authorities to induce artificial rain or cloud seeding over the capital. Our scientists and authorities are working round the clock to curb this. All requisite preparation for artificial rains are underway,” he was quoted by news agency ANI, as per an NDTV report.
On Tuesday, a thick blanket of smog and dust engulfed Delhi, while air quality in several areas remained in the “very poor” category. The overall air quality index on Tuesday was recorded at 352.
What is cloud seeding?
Cloud seeding or weather modification is an artificial way to induce moisture in the clouds in order to bring about rain. Cloud seeding is the process of combining different kinds of chemical agents, including silver iodide, dry ice and even common table salt, with existing clouds in an effort to thicken them and increase the chance of rainfall. These chemical agents are then dumped onto the clouds using an an aircraft or an artillery gun, which leads to a rain shower.
How will cloud seeding be implemented in Delhi?
Cloud seeding for artificial rain can be expected once meteorological conditions are stable, a senior official said. The official said that authorities could induce rainfall this week, but if meteorological conditions are unsuitable, that is, if there aren’t enough clouds to start the process, it could be done next week.
“The exact date and extent of seeding will depend on cloud formation. Scientists [from IIT Kanpur] can, however, be ready within 24 hours of getting such a prediction,” a senior official from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the Times of India.
What other measures have been introduced to battle pollution?
Delhi’s air quality has been oscillating between “very poor” and “severe” categories. On some days, it even reached “hazardous” levels. Since Delhi’s air pollution has shown no sign of abating, few measures have been introduced to tackle pollution.
Air filtering buses
To tackle Delhi’s pollution, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, on November 1, flagged off five buses fitted with air-filters which trap pollutants in the air.
Designed by Faridabad-based Manav Rachna Innovation and Incubation Centre (MRIIC), the project proposes to introduce 30 more buses in Delhi. The buses are meant to carry school children.
The buses have air filters called Pariyayantra fitted on the roof, which help in cleaning the air. The filters can be operated without electricity and are equivalent to filtration provided by six room air-filters, said the developers from MRIIC.
44 teams to check pollution
About 44 joint teams from various agencies were to be deployed from November 1 to keep air pollution levels in check, the Delhi government said.
The teams comprise SDMs (sub-divisional magistrates)/tehsildars, and officials from the municipal corporations, Delhi Pollution Control Committee/Environment Department, Union Ministry of Environment, and CPCB, Delhi’s Environment Minister Imran Hussain said, the Hindu reported.
Hussain further said that the teams will be mandated to take action against garbage burning, stubble burning, vehicular emission, traffic choke points, dug up and dusty roads, industrial emission, construction and demolition waste, and use of diesel generator sets.
A ban on private vehicles?
Delhi could consider imposing a ban on all private vehicles except those running on CNG in an effort to curb pollution and improve air quality. The pollution control authority, in its latest recommendations, asked that “at least” the odd-even scheme be implemented as an immediate measure.
In its list of recommendations to the CPCB, the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), asked them to “either impose a complete ban on non-CNG private vehicles, or at least implement the odd-even scheme if air pollution levels rise again in Delhi,” as per an NDTV report.
This comes after the EPCA chief said a ban on private vehicles could be possible as a last resort. “Let us hope the air pollution situation in Delhi doesn’t deteriorate but if it turns out to be an emergency, we will have to stop the use of private transport,” said Bhure Lal, the EPCA’s chairperson, India Today reported.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.