The Delhi government will attempt a technique known as cloud seeding, create separate action plans for the 13 air pollution hot spots of the city, tap security agencies to stop biomass burning, and encourage people to use public transport, state environment minister Gopal Rai said on Tuesday, citing discussions between the city government and experts earlier in the day to come up with a winter action plan for bad air.
Rai announced the suggestions and said separate action plans will be made for 13 hotspots to reduce pollution and improve air quality in the city.
“Experts have also advised that separate action plans should be made at all these hot spots to reduce pollution. Separate winter action plans will help in tackling the issues comprehensively because they have different causes of pollution,” said Rai.
The minister added that experts had submitted written suggestions and acting upon on the same, the winter action plan will be prepared by representatives of various departments and institutions.
In a written statement, the Delhi government shared that burning of biomass is one of the major causes of pollution as per a source apportionment study — led by IIT-Kanpur, with IIT Delhi and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) both involved — and said that measures to tackle the same will be taken. “The local biomass burning needs sincere attention and we will conduct a meeting with local security guard companies to create awareness about the same. It has been noticed that during winters security guards use bonfires to stay warm. The DPCC (Delhi Pollution Control Committee) team will continuously monitor the hotspots,” said Rai.
He also said that the Delhi government will explore the possibility of inducing artificial rain in Delhi, a suggestion that had come up during earlier deliberations. He said experts from IIT-Kanpur gave a presentation the mechanism of doing so during the experts’ meet.
“During a recent meeting with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, in which many industrialists were present, a suggestion was made to use artificial rain during the ‘severe’ pollution days in Delhi to reduce the number of such days. Experts from IIT-Kanpur also gave a presentation on how artificial rain can be produced. We have requested them to prepare a detailed presentation outlining various facets such as implementation and financial burden. The presentation will be placed before the CM and we will further explore the possibility of implementation of the measures,” said Rai.
Cloud seeding and creating artificial rain, to be sure, is not an exact science yet. The consensus in most hopeful scenarios is that this can be done to trigger precipitation in highly humid conditions, but it remains to be seen whether it can work in pre-winter months or at scale.
Rai added that the number of severe days during winter has reduced from 33 to six over the past eight years. “We need to further reduce the number of severe pollution days,” added Rai.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy at CSE, said that robust implementation of the winter action plan will be crucial for effectively dealing with Delhi’s air quality crisis. Roychowdhury shared that strategies and interventions for key sectors of pollution were discussed at length during the meet.
“Sectoral strategies targetting key sectors of pollution including vehicles, waste, construction, industry, hotspot action among others were discussed comprehensively in the meeting. The environment department is expected to finalise the plan soon,” she said, adding that the winter pollution action plan requires robust and effective implementation strategy to yield results.