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Delhi’s Battle Against Air Pollution: Exploring Artificial Rain as a Potential Solution

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Delhi: Amidst escalating air pollution in Delhi, the city’s government is exploring a novel strategy to address the crisis—artificial rain through cloud seeding. In collaboration with IIT Kanpur, this innovative initiative aims to provide temporary relief from pollutants by inducing rainfall. This article examines the proposed method’s intricacies, challenges, and environmental implications.

Understanding Artificial Rain:

Artificial rain, commonly known as cloud seeding, involves introducing substances like silver iodide, potassium iodide, and dry ice into the atmosphere. These particles attract water vapor, leading to cloud formation and subsequent rainfall. IIT Kanpur’s collaboration with the Delhi government explores the feasibility of deploying aircraft equipped with cloud-seeding devices to combat air pollution.

IIT Kanpur’s Pioneering Efforts:

IIT Kanpur takes the lead in this groundbreaking initiative, having successfully conducted cloud seeding trials earlier in June. The institute’s plan involves using a six-seater Cessna plane to release salt particles into the clouds, stimulating the condensation process and prompting rainfall. With the approval of aviation watchdog DGCA, IIT Kanpur’s approach seeks to wash away pollutants through strategically induced rains.

Global Precedents and Estimated Cost:

Countries worldwide have explored cloud seeding since the 1940s, with China and Middle Eastern nations employing artificial rain to address air pollution. The estimated cost for Delhi’s project is approximately ₹1 lakh per square kilometer, a figure the Delhi government is reportedly willing to bear with central support.

Temporary Relief Amidst Challenges:

IIT Kanpur’s Professor Manindra Agrawal acknowledges that artificial rain could provide a brief respite from poor air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR), lasting about a week. However, this approach faces challenges, including the need for permissions from various authorities and environmental concerns such as ocean acidification and ozone layer depletion.

Long-Term Solutions and Government Measures:

While artificial rain offers a temporary reprieve, it is not a panacea for Delhi’s persistent air pollution issues. The government is concurrently planning additional measures, such as temporarily closing schools and enforcing Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), to address the escalating pollution levels in the city.

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