Artificial rain to clean Capital lungs

| | New Delhi
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Artificial rain to clean Capital lungs

Thursday, 09 November 2023 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi

Artificial rain to clean Capital lungs

As the air quality deteriorated to severe levels, the Delhi Government on Wednesday announced its plan to induce artificial rain through a technique known as cloud seeding on November 20-21.

The Delhi Government also announced an early winter break in schools from November 9 to 18. The City Government also banned the entry of app-based cabs such as Ola and Uber that are not registered in Delhi.

Additionally, they deferred the implementation of the odd-even car rationing scheme until the Supreme Court reviews its effectiveness in curbing air pollution and issues an order in that regard.

Experts from IIT Kanpur have made a detailed presentation on using cloud seeding to create artificial rain for removing dust and pollutants from the air. The scientists from IIT Kanpur, who have conducted research on artificial rain, had previously given a presentation to the Delhi Government on September 12.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai held a meeting on Wednesday with experts from IIT Kanpur. They explained that cloud seeding can only be attempted when there are clouds or moisture in the atmosphere. 

Representatives from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and senior officials from the Delhi Government were also present at the meeting.

After the meeting, Rai said, “Experts anticipate that such (cloud) conditions could develop around November 20-21. We have asked the scientists to prepare a proposal in this regard which will be submitted to the Supreme Court.”

Rai emphasised that obtaining the necessary clearances and permissions for using this technology from both the Central and the State governments is a time-sensitive matter.

As Delhi’s air quality again dropped to the “severe” category on Wednesday with the 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded at 426, Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi said open burning of garbage, dumping of construction waste and use of tandoors in restaurants were among the top contributors to rising air pollution in the national Capital.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has collected nearly `1.51 crore in seven days from fines imposed on violators flouting the ban on these activities, she added.

Several cities across the Indo-Gangetic plains reported hazardous air quality with neighbouring Ghaziabad recording an AQI of 384, Gurugram 385, Noida 405, Greater Noida 478 and Faridabad 425.

According to data from the Decision Support System, a numerical model-based framework capable of identifying sources of particulate matter pollution in Delhi, stubble burning in neighbouring States, especially Punjab and Haryana, accounted for 38 per cent of the air pollution in Delhi on Wednesday. It is likely to be 27 per cent on Thursday.

However, in order to create artificial rain, certain weather conditions are needed, like the presence of clouds with enough moisture and the right kind of wind. Additionally, in order to fly aircraft over the nation’s Capital that is in dire need of fresh air, several permissions must be obtained, including those from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Special Protection Group, and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Cloud seeding involves dispersing substances into the air to encourage condensation, resulting in precipitation. The most common substances used for cloud seeding include silver iodide, potassium iodide and dry ice (solid carbon dioxide). These agents provide the nuclei around which water vapour can condense, ultimately leading to the formation of rain or snow. This weather modification technique has been utilised in various parts of the world, primarily in regions experiencing water scarcity or drought conditions. Some of the countries and States that have employed the cloud seeding technology include the US, China, Australia, and the UAE.

Earlier in the day, addressing a press conference, Rai on Wednesday said the

Delhi Government will implement the odd-even car rationing scheme after the Supreme Court reviews its effectiveness.

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