Ae­rial sprin­kling may fail to take off

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - @times­

New Delhi: Delhi gov­ern- ment’s plan to curb pol­lu­tion by ae­rial sprin­kling of wa­ter may have hit a road­block with Pawan Hans in­form­ing the civil avi­a­tion min­istry that it doesn’t have the ca­pac­ity to carry out such an ex­er­cise. Ear­lier at a meet­ing with Delhi gov­ern­ment, AAI and DGCA of­fi­cials on Mon­day, the na­tional he­li­copter car­rier had said that it was not fea­si­ble to fly he­li­copters when vis­i­bil­ity was poor — es­pe­cially dur­ing smog, which the gov­ern­ment is aim­ing to tackle in the first place.

On Tues­day, avi­a­tion sec­re­tary R N Choubey said Pawan Hans had in­formed him about its in­abil­ity to con­duct the ex­er­cise. A Delhi gov­ern­ment spokesper­son, how­ever, said they had re­ceived no such in­ti­ma­tion. “At Mon­day’s meet­ing, Pawan Hans had raised con­cerns about fly­ing in poor vis­i­bil­ity. The other stick­ing point was no-fly­ing zones — and Delhi has sev­eral of them. It was de­cided that an SOP be cre­ated to move ahead and, for that, a com­mit­tee has al­ready been formed,” the spokesper­son said.

Pawan Hans CMD B P Sharma had ear­lier told TOI that he­li­copters would have dif­fi­culty fly­ing in low vis­i­bil­ity. The gov­ern­ment had planned to make use of Delhi Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Com­mit­tee’s air-am­bi­ence fund to carry out sprin­kling to set­tle dust and pol­lu­tants af­ter the cap­i­tal saw seven straight days of “se­vere” air qual­ity, with the AQI touch­ing 486. Delhi en­v­i­ron- Such a tech­nique has never been em­ployed be­fore and, even if used, would only set­tle the par­tic­u­late mat­ter — giv­ing a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion, at best ment min­is­ter Im­ran Hus­sain had writ­ten to Union en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Dr Harsh Vard­han last month, ask­ing him to pro­pose to the civil avi­a­tion min­istry that he­li­copters be used for this pur­pose.

Last week, Hus­sain had tweeted: “Delhi govt is in talks with Pawan Hans for ae­rial sprin­kling of wa­ter over the city to bring down par­tic­u­late mat­ter @Arvin­d­Ke­jri­wal @msiso­dia.” This had come in the wake of an NGT order. The he­li­copter ser­vice com­pany, in alet­ter, asked the Delhi ad­min­is­tra­tion for a meet­ing to dis­cuss the mat­ter re­gard­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of car­ry­ing out the ex­er­cise, which “shall re­quire a com­pre­hen­sive fea­si­bil­ity study and ap­provals from var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties”.

Pawan Hans, an enterprise un­der the min­istry of civil avi­a­tion, said it “has the ca­pac­ity to carry out such as­sign­ment and has car­ried out sim­i­lar ex­er­cises in the past for wash­ing of in­su­la­tors of high ten­sion lines and agri­cul­ture spray­ing”.

Ex­perts, how­ever, ques­tioned the move, say­ing it was dif­fi­cult to as­sess the ef­fi­cacy of ae­rial sprin­kling. “No such study has been done to see if it can work. Also, we don’t know how much wa­ter will be re­quired. The gov­ern­ment should adopt other long-term mea­sures,” said An­u­mita Roy Chowd­hury, head of Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment’s clean air pro­gramme.

Di­pankar Saha, head of CPCB’s air lab­o­ra­tory, said strong “rain” was re­quired to set­tle par­tic­u­late mat­ter, oth­er­wise it would ren­der the ac­tiv­ity un­pro­duc­tive.

An NDMC worker sprin­kles wa­ter in Lu­tyens’ Delhi

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