In what could bring respite for people in Pune district that has recorded deficient rainfall this monsoon, authorities plan to undertake cloud-seeding in parched areas from Wednesday.
“Moisture-laden clouds will be cloud-seeded,” stated an advisory issued by India Meteorological Department and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) based in Pune.
However, officials said permission from the Indian Air Force had been sought for necessary flight operations from the Lohegaon airport and a green signal was awaited. Once the nod is granted, cloud-seeding could commence towards Wednesday afternoon, they said.
“We will run operations from Pune airport and target catchment areas. We are expected to cover the parched areas of the district like Junnar, Khed, Ambegaon, Maval, Mulshi and Bhor. However, it will all depend on the cloud availability in these areas,” said Suhas Diwase, director of the state’s Disaster Management Cell who is managing the operations of cloud-seeding in the state.
Diwase said that as a back-up plan in case the permission was denied, they would move to Kolhapur to conduct the operations.
After having achieved success in Aurangabad, Beed, Latur and Osmanabad, where the Met department recorded 1,400 mm of rainfall in a period of 25 days, the operations that commenced there on August 4 will now shift to Western Ghats.
“The decision to move to Pune is sudden, since the weather radar has captured cloud images extending up to 250 kms. The photos are received every 8 minutes and based on that, there have been consultations with Met officials and experts from private firms as well as various world models. Last week, it was found that there would be seedable clouds in catchment areas for Pune and surrounding areas. We are focussing on the catchment areas so that storage levels improve,” Diwase said.
For the cloud-seeding project in the state, the Maharashtra government has hired Khyati Systems for Rs 27 crore and the company had offered 100 free flight hours of the operations.
So far, cloud-seeding operations have been conducted for over 20 days in the Aurangabad region. “We will be using hygroscopic flares as well as glaciogenic or silver iodide for cloud that have cold water, but do not result in rain. The cloud-seeding will help in rainfall as we have seen in Aurangabad,” officials said.
In the Aurangabad operations, the government has already exhausted 40 per cent of the amount (Rs 25 crore) and the remaining would be used for other regions, they said.
This monsoon, Pune district recorded a rainfall deficiency of 83 mm as compared to the season’s average and dams in its catchment areas are only half full. The cloud seeding is expected to revive some water levels, say officials who have held several meetings on addressing the situation in parched areas of the district.