Can Artificial Rain Alleviate Delhi's Pollution Crisis?

Experts have suggested the implementation of artificial rain in Delhi, with the proposed date set around November 20 and 21. This recommendation is based on the weather forecast indicating a crucial 40% cloud cover over the national capital during that period, a prerequisite for the artificial rain process. The Delhi Government is currently reviewing the plan and intends to present it before the Supreme Court, seeking cooperation from the Centre. The detailed plan will be provided to the Supreme Court today.
Environment Minister, GopalRai, on-site to guarantee full compliance with GRAP-4 regulations on Thursday night.
Environment Minister, GopalRai, on-site to guarantee full compliance with GRAP-4 regulations on Thursday night.Image- AAP

New Delhi - The Delhi government is grappling with a pressing environmental crisis characterized by deteriorating air quality and escalating pollution levels. To combat this alarming situation, a series of measures have been introduced, culminating in a recent meeting of Delhi's ministers dedicated to ensuring strict adherence to pollution control regulations.

These actions encompass the implementation of GRAP-IV across the entire National Capital Region (NCR) to address sources of pollution, including vehicle emissions, dust, biomass burning, and stubble pollution. Moreover, there are stringent bans on the use of BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel vehicles within the city, restrictions on the entry of diesel buses from outside Delhi, and comprehensive limitations on construction activities.

Apart from these efforts, the government also sees cloud seeding as a temporary solution for the citizens of the capital. If all goes right, researchers will make artificial rain fall in the capital to bring down the particulate matter and smog.

Experts have suggested the implementation of artificial rain in Delhi, with the proposed date set around November 20 and 21. This recommendation is based on the weather forecast indicating a crucial 40% cloud cover over the national capital during that period, a prerequisite for the artificial rain process. The Delhi Government is currently reviewing the plan and intends to present it before the Supreme Court, seeking cooperation from the Centre. The detailed plan will be provided to the Supreme Court on Friday, 10th November.

If the Supreme Court endorses the proposal, the first pilot project of artificial rain in Delhi could take place during the specified dates. Gopal Rai, the environment minister, highlighted that the IIT-Kanpur team emphasized the necessity of a minimum 40% cloud cover for the successful execution of the artificial rain initiative.

This strategic move aims to address environmental challenges in the region and showcases a collaborative effort between scientific experts, government entities, and the judiciary. The potential implementation of artificial rain serves as a testament to innovative solutions being explored to mitigate weather-related issues and improve the overall environmental quality in Delhi.

The Environment Minister has been quoted as saying, “A meeting with the IIT Kanpur team was held today regarding the possibility of cloud seeding, i.e., artificial rain in the wake of the pollution situation. This proposal was first presented by IIT Kanpur in that meeting. In today's meeting, it was decided that tomorrow they will send a detailed proposal to the Government. If we receive their proposal tomorrow, we will present this before the Supreme Court. They (IIT Kanpur) estimate that it can be cloudy on 20-21 November in Delhi. Keeping that in mind, we have asked them to send a proposal tomorrow, and then we will present it before the Court... If it is cloudy on 20-21 November and all permissions are obtained, the pilot can be executed that day."

Graphic- ClearIAS

What is Artificial Rain, and How Does it Work?

The Delhi government is exploring the implementation of artificial rain, or cloud seeding, as a novel strategy to combat the alarming air pollution in the city. In discussions with a team from IIT Kanpur on November 8, Environment Minister Gopal Rai delved into the potential of introducing artificial rainfall to address the capital's Air Quality Index (AQI) concerns. If the skies remain overcast around November 20-21, Delhi might witness artificial rainfall, marking a creative approach to tackling the air pollution issue.

Artificial rain, also known as cloud seeding, is a weather modification technique involving the introduction of substances into clouds to stimulate precipitation. Common agents like silver iodide or potassium iodide are dispersed into clouds using aircraft or helicopters. These particles act as nuclei, encouraging the formation of water droplets and ultimately leading to the development of raindrops. The entire process usually takes about half an hour, contingent on specific meteorological conditions, including the presence of moisture-laden clouds and favourable wind patterns.

The primary objective of artificial rain is to augment rainfall in targeted areas or alleviate drought conditions. This method, with its fascinating applications, extends beyond immediate weather modification, influencing weather patterns for purposes ranging from agricultural enhancement to environmental and water resource management. The potential use of artificial rain in Delhi represents a forward-thinking and innovative approach to addressing the pressing air quality challenges faced by the city.

History of the Project

Since 2018, IIT Kanpur has been actively engaged in the development of artificial rain technology and has reached a stage where it is confident in assisting the national capital in addressing its air pollution challenges. The institute-initiated trials in Kanpur in May, initially using a pump to disperse a salt mix into moisture-laden clouds. This process aimed to condense smaller particles within the clouds, leading to the artificial induction of rain.

Subsequently, in 2019, IIT Kanpur upgraded its approach by acquiring flare sets for cloud seeding from the United States. These flare sets, affixed to the wings of an aircraft, release flares into the clouds. In July of the current year, the institute resumed trials after receiving approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to modify the wings of one of its two Cessna planes to accommodate the flare sets. As of last month, IIT Kanpur has successfully conducted five trials, showcasing the progress and potential of its artificial rain technology.

Securing various approvals, such as those from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Special Protection Group responsible for the Prime Minister's security, is a requisite process for flying aircraft over the polluted national capital. The researchers have successfully acquired the essential authorizations from government bodies, including the DGCA, to proceed with cloud seeding.

The Largest cloud seeding system in the world is that of the People's Republic of China, which believes that it increases the amount of rain over several increasingly arid regions, including its capital city, Beijing, by firing silver iodide rockets into the sky where rain is desired. Other major users are America, European countries and Australia.

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