Even as the India Meteorological Department Friday said air quality in the capital should improve from Saturday, national helicopter carrier Pawan Hans Limited told the Delhi government that it has the capacity to take up aerial sprinkling of water to bring down particulate matter in the city. The Delhi government had written to the carrier on Thursday, asking if it would be possible to undertake the exercise, after the concentration of particulate matter (PM) shot up in the capital over the past week.
“Pawan Hans… has the capacity to take up such assignments as it has carried out similar exercise in the past for washing of insulators of high tension lines and agricultural spraying, etc,” the letter to the Delhi government states. It has, however, called for a meeting with the Delhi government on Saturday to work out the modalities. The proposal, Pawan Hans Limited said, requires a “comprehensive feasibility study and approvals from various authorities such as DGCA, AAI, Defence, Delhi Administration, etc”.
The body suggested that a joint working group of the Delhi administration and a Pawan Hans team be set up to work out a proposal and a standard operating procedure, for sprinkling over the city to be carried out, as Delhi has no-fly zones. It also said specialised equipment will have to be attached to helicopters for the exercise.
The IMD, meanwhile, said air quality will improve from Saturday as wind speed will pick up and help disperse pollutants. “We expect wind speed of 19-20 kilometres per hour from Saturday afternoon. The temperature is not expected to be too low either and we expect a marked improvement in air quality starting Saturday,” a senior IMD official said.
According to the SAFAR forecast, the PM 2.5 concentration in the city is expected to be 286 micrograms per cubic metre on Saturday, which still puts the air in the ‘severe’ category. On Sunday, it is expected to be 238 micrograms per cubic metre, or ‘very poor’.
In fact, it was a combination of low temperature and slow winds that made November 8 one of the most polluted days in the city in several months, data from the IMD and the Central Pollution Control Board indicates.