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Pollution: Here’s a plan to wash away Delhi’s toxic air

Authorities are planning cloud seeding to tackle Delhi’s near-toxic levels of air pollution.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 06, 2018, 05.57 PM IST

Air quality of Delhi has recently, like in the onset of every winter, varied between “severe” and “very poor”.

NEW DELHI: Make it rain, clean the air. Artificial rain may be used to tackle Delhi’s near-toxic levels of air pollution. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, aided by weather data from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and aircraft from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), are planning cloud seeding. Artificial rain will help improve the national capital’s air quality. Efforts at cloud seeding will begin soon, likely after November 10. Cloud seeding involves changing the amount and/or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dispersing substances (mostly salts) into the air. The dispersion is done from aircraft.

This is the first time artificial rain will be used to tackle pollution in any Indian city.

“Artificial rains can be a solution-…together with IMD and IIT Kanpur, we are closely looking at this option,” CPCB member-secretary Prashant Gargava told ET.


“We are ready from our end to create artificial rains but waiting for conditions like (formation of clouds and wind) to become favourable,” said Sachchida Nand Tripathi, a professor at IIT Kanpur. He added that “IMD is closely watching weather conditions”. As of now, he said, conditions till November 10 are not conducive for artificial rains.

How many times will Delhi have artificial rains? It will depend on the impact of the first attempt and on severity of pollution in the coming days, the IIT professor said. But the job may be a tough one.

Not Easy to Seed Clouds in Winter
“It is easier to seed pre-monsoon and monsoon clouds and it may not be easy trying to seed clouds in winter that are not very moistureladen,” he said.

The project has been commissioned by CPCB and will be funded by the central government. IIT Kanpur is providing the salt mix required for inducing rains and ISRO will provide aircraft and crew.

China has been using cloud seeding to create rains for many years. The US, Israel, South Africa and Germany have also used the technology. In India, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka have used the option when faced with severe drought.

Air quality of Delhi has recently, like in the onset of every winter, varied between “severe” and “very poor”. It is likely to be in the “severe” category in the coming days.

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World’s fastest growing economy has the world’s most toxic air

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