Environment minister Imran Hussain wrote to Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan requesting the use of “helicopter” or “aircraft” for “aerial sprinkling of water” in Delhi to curb air pollution, adding that the state government would bear the cost. The letter comes a day before the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) is set to hold a meeting on the issue of road dust as a major contributing factor to pollution in the city.
As per a 2015 IIT-Kanpur study on air pollution, road dust (32%) is the largest contributor to air pollution, followed by vehicular pollution (20%). Bhure Lal, Chairman, EPCA, said authorities have time till March 15, 2018, to identify three dusty roads each in Delhi-NCR and implement measures to curb pollution.
In the letter, Hussain said the government is ready to bear the cost of the exercise, and requested Harsh Vardhan to take up the matter with the Civil Aviation Ministry. “In view of the continuous poor air quality in Delhi, it is requested that your good office may kindly propose to Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India to carry out an exercise to sprinkle water aerially through helicopter/aircraft to settle particulate matters in Delhi. Govt of NCT, Delhi, is willing to bear the expenses from Air Ambience Fund of DPCC,” he said.
Thick smog and the presence of toxic pollutants in the air after Diwali last year had prompted the National Green Tribunal to assess the feasibility of sprinkling water using helicopters to control dust pollution. “We want to know from you why didn’t your authorities sprinkle water on roads earlier? Why can’t you use helicopters to create artificial rain to control dust pollution. Are they only meant to carry your officials?” the NGT had asked in November last year.
Hussain on Monday also reviewed the ambient air quality in Delhi in a meeting with officials of the environment department and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. “The assessment of ambient air quality has been undertaken at 16 locations, of which five locations — R K Puram, Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, Civil Lines and Anand Vihar — are part of the existing network and have comparable data to last year,” said an official.
The official added, “Air Quality Index trend from October 17-22, 2017 indicates ‘severe’ condition in the city. The value of 403 was recorded on October 20, 2017, i.e, the day after Diwali. The index shifted to ‘very poor’ condition from October 21 onwards with value of 329 on October 22, 2017. This trend can be attributed to improved wind conditions post-Diwali.”