Artificial rains no solution to Delhi’s air pollution: Earth Science Secretary

Artificial rains no solution to Delhi’s air pollution: Earth Science Secretary

Agency News

New Delhi, Nov 25: Taking a divergent view from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Earth Sciences' Secretary M Rajeevan has discounted the option of artificial rains to mitigate air pollution in Delhi and NCR.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has approved a project to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur to induce artificial rains through cloud seeding, to mitigate air pollution in the national capital.

''It is not very viable in Delhi to combat air pollution in this winter season. For artificial rain process, we need adequate amount of clouds with certain development. In this season, it is very hard to get such kind of clouds,'' Dr Rajeevan told UNI.

He said artificial rain making is not a perfect science even now, though India has been doing the exercise since late 1960s.

''We have not understood what is the best way to make artificial rains (or cloud seeding) and even if it is performed, what is the success rate.''

He, however, said the understanding on the process has improved over the recent years.

The official, however, refused to comment on the Environment Ministry's move to pick up an outside institution, overlooking the expertise of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and its affiliates.

The success rate of artificial rains in other countries is very low. Even if it would be successful to bring some rains, the respite from air pollution will be hardly for 1-2 days. Since the sources of pollution always emit the pollutants, the air pollution levels will again attain high levels very quickly, Dr Rajeevan noted.

He said, ''It is not a viable solution. For Delhi's air pollution we need long-term and sustained action plan to reduce the emissions''.

The air quality in Delhi has been deteriorating to alarming levels with the onset of winter, with the overall air quality index (AQI) registering a poor level, according to SAFAR, the Air Quality Service being provided by the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

The prediction for the next few days is also not encouraging. In order to prepare a white paper on this subject, the MES has launched a two-year programme on cloud seeding. Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology is currently performing the observational campaign at Sholapur, Maharashtra.

''This year, we have done almost 200 years of flying with two aircraft and seeded clouds. We will repeat this campaign next year also. At the end, we expect to find out what the best way to make artificial rains is, what the success rate is and whether it is commercially viable.''

The official said, his ministry is procuring an aircraft to develop a national facility for airborne measurements and research for clouds, aerosols and trace gases. The project is in the final stage and the Ministry of Earth Sciences will release the tender by next month and expect to receive the aircraft by the end of 2020. (UNI)