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Delhi Air Quality ‘Very Poor’ After Unusual Improvement, Experts Doubt the Efficiency Of Cloud Seeding

Delhi’s air quality has been fluctuating between poor and very poor this week, meanwhile experts question the long term viability of artificial rain

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New Delhi: Citizens in the national capital were relieved with the air quality on Sunday as the improved air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 262, falling in the ‘poor’ category. But the respite was short lived as the AQI climbed back up to 320 by Monday morning. The brief improvement was being attributed to the increased wind speed, which as per experts, were favourable for dispersion of pollutants.
Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) termed the short-term improvement in the air quality as ‘unusual’ for this time of the year, “The major role is being played by late night faster wind speed which otherwise remains calm,”  read the statement by SAFAR. The air quality is expected to keep oscillating between ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ for the next three days.
On Monday morning however, the AQI in 23 areas was registered in the “very poor” category, while the condition was “poor” in 12 areas. The level of PM2.5 (particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) was recorded at 179, whereas the PM 10 level was recorded at 338.
The increase in pollution can be attributed to a decline in wind speed as compared to past two days. All other meteorological factors were already unfavourable, the SAFAR said in a report.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
In the NCR region, Ghaziabad recorded the worst air quality with an AQI of 402. Greater Noida and Noida’s air quality was also registered in the “very poor” category. Faridabad and Gurgaon however, recorded moderate air quality, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
With the air pollution being a periodic issue in the region, authorities have said that they are considering inducing artificial rain in the region by the process of cloud-seeding. This will help wash away the pollutants present in the air and help curb the alarming levels of pollution, as per the authorities.
We have made all the preparations and have also got the aircraft from ISRO which will be needed to induce the artificial rain. The technique has been tested before in Maharashtra as well as parts of Lucknow. However, this is the first time in India that artificial rain would be created over a big land mass to counter the damage done by air pollutants, said Manindra Agarwal, Deputy Director IIT Kanpur.
Cloud-seeding is the process of combining different kinds of chemical agents like silver iodide, dry ice and table salt, in clouds to thicken them and increase the chance of rainfall.
However, environmental experts have expressed the requirement for a long term solution to the annual issue of air pollution. As per them, any measure to bring down air pollution levels should be undertaken without having a second thought, however we should emphasis on long term solutions and focused approach to address this problem.
Cloud-seeding might give relief for a short span of time from air pollution by virtue of washing down the pollutants from air but for how long? It is nowhere near to a solution to pollution, Greenpeace India’s senior campaigner Sunil Dahiya said.
 “Once the pollutants are released into the air trapping them is going to be an energy-intensive process and cannot be done at a largescale over sustained, longer time periods,” he said.
Aishwarya Sudhir, senior researcher, Climate Trends, said, “Delhi is still reeling under severe pollution levels, any measure that can bring down the pollution levels must be done without second thoughts. However, the larger question remains — the need for long term, focused approach to address the problem at its source, be it transport or crop burning,” Ms. Sudhir said.
They also stressed that the policymakers should consider an aggressive move from polluting fuels and focus on stringent enforcement of rules and regulations to control air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
If the government is serious about reducing pollution levels and make the air breathable, systematic and coordinated actions to reduce pollution at source by adopting efficient pollution control technologies and systematically eliminating polluting sources is the only way. Strict implementation of rules and regulation to control pollution with aggressive shift away from polluting fuels of past should get the priority and attention of our policy makers, Mr. Dahiya added.
 Mr. Dahiya asserts that the Delhi government and the Union Environment Ministry have to be serious about approaching a time-bound and target-oriented National Clean Air Action Plan for ‘absolute’ pollution level reduction.
 We are in the midst of a health emergency and without any further delay we have to get on to executing the plan to control multiple sources attributing to air pollution. We sincerely hope that India will keep its commitment made in WHO’s air pollution and health conference to notify the NCAP by December 2018, Mr. Dahiya said.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.

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