Updated: August 24, 2021 8:01:51 am
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated on Monday the country’s first ‘smog tower,’ an experimental set up worth Rs 20 crore to purify air in a 1-km radius around the structure, at a rate of around 1,000 cubic metres of air per second.
Terming the tower “experimental”, Kejriwal said its data will be analysed to determine its efficacy. Smog towers can be raised in other parts of the city as well, if a pilot study conducted on the new one set up at Connaught place provides favourable results, he said.
The tower, located behind the Shivaji Stadium Metro station in Connaught Place, was raised at a height of 24.2 metres. The total project cost, including two years of operational cost, is around Rs 20 crore, according to a senior official of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). The DPCC is the nodal agency for the tower, while NBCC is the project management consultancy and the executing agency was Tata Projects Limited.
The tower constitutes a pilot study to assess the reduction of particulate air pollution in urban areas through ‘air cleaning’. The two-year pilot study will be carried out by IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay, technical advisors for the project. The institutions will monitor the impact of the tower on PM2.5 and the functioning of the tower under different weather conditions.
Trends from the pilot study could be available in around a month, Kejriwal said. If the project is not successful, new techniques will have to be attempted, he added.
Going by the project description, the tower can filter around 1,000 cubic metres of air per second. It is expected to have an impact on a 1 km radius from the centre of the tower.
A total of 40 fans have been installed at the bottom of the tower — air will be sucked in from the top, filtered and released through the fans at the bottom. The tower comprises 5,000 filters. These are electrostatic air filters that can filter out microparticles, including those that constitute smoke, household dust and pollen, according to the project description. A Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system has been installed in the tower to collect data and monitor its functioning.
Construction workers who were at the inauguration said they had been working on the tower for about a year and a half. While work had stalled during the first Covid-related lockdown, it continued through the second lockdown, they said.
A similar tower is being set up at Anand Vihar, work on which is nearly complete.
Critics of the project point out that localised impact at a high cost would not be useful in tackling Delhi’s air pollution issues. Dipankar Saha, former additional director, CPCB, who was also head of the air quality monitoring division in Delhi, said that the tower might dilute emissions generated at the ground level, though it may not be significant.
“The tower is localised. How many such installations are required for Delhi at such a high investment cost? In tropical places, it’s not possible to suck dust out of the air, since it’s such a huge task. In winter, the dust layer stands at around 800 metres from ground level,” he said. Emission control at the ground level is the only feasible way to handle air pollution.”
Gautam Gambhir, BJP’s MP from East Delhi, had set up a 20 feet tall air purifying tower in Lajpat Nagar, near the central market, in January last year, in collaboration with the traders’ association of Lajpat Nagar. It functions with air filters. Ashwani Marwah, general secretary of the traders’ association, said that the tower is functioning and its operational cost is being borne by the association. A display board on top of the tower shows AQI to gauge its impact, he added.
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