Can Artificial Rain Wash Away Delhi’s Air Pollution?: IIT Kanpur’s Key Plan

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In response to the escalating air pollution crisis in Delhi, Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced on Wednesday the city government’s initiative to explore artificial rain through cloud seeding as a measure to combat the deteriorating air quality.

Rai revealed plans to submit a proposal on this matter to the Supreme Court in the near future. With the air quality index (AQI) reaching a ‘severe’ level of 457 as of 8 pm on Wednesday, Rai conducted a meeting with the IIT Kanpur team to discuss the feasibility of cloud seeding for inducing artificial rain. The scientists emphasized that cloud seeding could only be considered if there were existing clouds or moisture in the atmosphere.

Table of Contents

Delhi’s Air Quality Woes

The air quality in Delhi has reached alarming levels, prompting experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur to devise a plan for artificial rain. Let’s explore the details of this innovative approach.

IIT Kanpur’s Proposal

The IIT-Kanpur team is gearing up to present a comprehensive artificial rain plan to the Delhi government. This comes in response to the persistently ‘severe’ air quality in the national capital. The proposed action is scheduled around November 20 and 21, aligning with a weather forecast indicating 40% cloud cover—a crucial condition for artificial rain.

The Plan Unveiled

After scrutiny by the Delhi Government, the plan will be taken to the Supreme Court, seeking cooperation from the Centre. If the Supreme Court approves, the experts plan to execute the first pilot project of artificial rain in Delhi during the mentioned dates.

Cloud Cover Requirement

Environment Minister Gopal Rai highlighted the experts’ insistence on a minimum 40% cloud cover for the artificial rain to be effective. Insufficient cloud cover, they emphasized, hinders the rain-making process.

Understanding Artificial Rain

What is Artificial Rain?

Artificial rain, also known as cloud seeding, is a technique aimed at stimulating precipitation. Substances like silver iodide or potassium iodide are introduced into clouds using aircraft or helicopters.

How Does it Work?

  • Cloud Selection: The process hinges on selecting clouds with supercooled water, i.e., liquid water colder than zero Celsius.
  • Chemical Introduction: Substances with crystalline structures, like silver iodide, induce freezing in the clouds.
  • Dispersion: Small, slow-moving airplanes disperse chemicals into the clouds. High-speed planes are unsuitable for this task.
  • Operation Challenges: Large-scale implementation requires permissions from authorities like DGCA, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Airport Authority of India.

Cost Estimates

IIT-Kanpur professor Manendra Aggarwal estimates the cost of the artificial rain plan to be Rs 1 lakh per square kilometer. The Delhi government has already expressed its willingness to cover the expenses for the initial phases of the project.

In the face of Delhi’s severe air pollution, this innovative solution could provide a ray of hope. As the city awaits approvals and collaborations, the potential impact of artificial rain on improving air quality remains a topic of keen interest.

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