New Delhi: Minister of State for Environment, Mahesh Sharma said that the extent of artificial rain and its likely impact on pollution reduction in Delhi cannot be quantified precisely without actually carrying out the experiment. He said this in a written reply to Lok Sabha and added that the Project Appraisal and Approval Committee- Environment Protection Charge (PAAC-EPC) had approved IIT Kanpur’s project to induce artificial rain in Delhi but the proposed process was yet to be conducted.
The remarks came after authorities said they might induce artificial rain by cloud-seeding to wash away pollutants in the air in the wake of air quality levels in Delhi reached alarming levels. “Increasing menace of air pollution is a big concern for a developing country like India,” Mr. Sharma said in November. “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,” he said, adding that preparations for artificial rain are under way.
If the situation worsens then the option of 'cloud seeding' to induce rainfall artificially, as an immediate step can be considered: Mahesh Sharma, MoS Environment #DelhiPollution pic.twitter.com/oUFBFSVxYw
— ANI (@ANI) November 20, 2018
Cloud seeding is the process of combining different kinds of chemical agents, including silver iodide, dry ice and even table salt, with clouds in an effort to thicken them and increase the chance of rainfall. The process also involves changing the amount and type of precipitation by dispersing substances (mostly salts) into the air. The dispersion is done from aircraft.
Mr. Sharma said,
PAAC-EPC in its meeting on November 13, 2018 in-principle approved IIT, Kanpur project to induce artificial rain in Delhi at the cost of Rs 20 lakhs plus institute overhead, GST and aircraft related expenses. The proposed experiment has not yet been conducted in Delhi.
He further said,
It has been generally observed that rainfall results in lowering of the concentration of the pollutants in the atmosphere.
An official from Union Environment Ministry had earlier said, “We have been arguing with IMD and others that let them try over Delhi as well. Without trying, how do we know if it will be successful or not.”
The Union environment ministry had said earlier in December that it was waiting for suitable level and density of clouds, and a clearance from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to induce artificial rain through cloud seeding in Delhi.
IIT Kanpur Scientist and Professor, Sachchida Nand Tripathi said to NDTV,
The clouds required for cloud seeding are of a typical type. They are called convective clouds, and they grow vertically. Only these can be seeded, not the other type, which are called stratified and grow horizontally. They work to endorse rainfall by inducing nucleation – whatever water is in the air condenses around the newly familiarised particles and crystallises to form ice.
Last year, the Delhi government had proposed sprinkling water from a helicopter to reduce dust. Experts, however, argue that the aerial spraying of water and inducing artificial rain are not long-term solutions to the air pollution problem, and the government should take systematic and coordinated actions to reduce air pollution at source.
(With Inputs From PTI)
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