Delhi air pollution: Scientists hope cloud cover and rain will curb smog

Indian scientists have planned for the first time to seed clouds to bring heavy rain to some areas of New Delhi, the head of the project said on Thursday, hoping to end the week-long smog that blanketed the world’s most polluted capital. There will be enough to deal with.

Air quality in Delhi deteriorates every year before winter, when cold air traps pollutants from various sources including vehicles, industries, construction dust and agricultural waste burning.

Scientists expect some clouds to appear over the city around November 20 and they expect these clouds to be large enough – and with sufficient moisture content – ​​to cause heavy rainfall through seeding with salt, in Kanpur. Indian Institute of Technology scientist Manindra Aggarwal said. , who is leading the case.

The estimated cost of this project is Rs. Aggarwal said, a mixture of salt, which also includes silver iodine, will be sprayed in the clouds for Rs 1 crore for 100 square kilometers.

“We don’t expect such a big cloud that it will cover the whole of Delhi, but a few hundred kilometers would be good,” he told Reuters.

The local government of the city of 20 million people, spread over about 1,500 square kilometers, has already closed all schools, halted construction activity and said it would ban vehicle use to control pollution.

The air quality index in the city on Thursday morning was 506, which is classified as “hazardous” by Swiss group IQAir.

Gufran Baig, founding director of SAFAR, the federal government’s air-quality monitoring agency, said Delhi needs heavy and widespread rains to wash away pollutants and light rains could worsen the situation.

Baig said the current air flow is carrying smoke from crop residue burning in the states of Punjab and Haryana to Delhi, which also has its own pollution sources and where there is almost no wind at present.

“So unless intense rainfall creates a heavy depression, this chain of transportation from Punjab to Delhi will not be broken, and once this chain is broken it is difficult to rebuild for some time,” he told Reuters.

According to a government statement, about 38 per cent of pollution in the capital is due to stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, where more than 22,000 stubble burning incidents were recorded between September 15 and November 7.

Stubble burning is a practice followed by farmers in which the crop residue left after harvesting rice is burnt to quickly clear the fields before sowing the wheat crop.

The statement said the federal government has directed officials in both states to “take effective action” to stop stubble burning.

The Delhi government wants to get approval for the project from the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions related to pollution.

Many countries, including Mexico, the United States, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, have used cloud seeding to generate rain, improve air quality, and harvest water during times of drought.

However, in 2021, a plan to cloud New Mexico’s mountains to increase snowfall was withdrawn after allegations that it could poison people and the environment.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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