Lucknow prepares for artificial rains to combat air pollution

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Lucknow prepares for artificial rains to combat air pollution

The Uttar Pradesh capital might witness artificial rains through cloud-seeding by IIT Kanpur to combat air pollution which has reached crisis level.

As Lucknow goes through its worst phase of consistent bad air quality, residents have been demanding immediate measures to curb city's unrelenting smog. While the administration has finally woken up to the seriousness of the issue, the relief measures taken by the government may take days before we see clear blue skies.

The Uttar Pradesh capital might witness artificial rains through cloud-seeding by IIT Kanpur to combat air pollution which has reached crisis level. A few days ago, the Uttar Pradesh government had asked Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur to explore the option of artificial rains.

"IIT Kanpur got the project on artificial rains from the Uttar Pradesh Council of Science and Technology a few months back. For this, the institute has got a grant of Rs 15 lakh," Officiating Director of IIT Kanpur, Manindra Agrawal told PTI. He said the institute is ready for the first artificial rain in Uttar Pradesh and only the approval from the Union civil aviation ministry is awaited.

The area where artificial rain is needed should have cloud cover. It will definitely reduce air pollution levels, Agrawal said. Aerospace, civil engineering and industrial management engineering departments are working on this project, he said. The expense of first artificial rains will be relatively higher, Agrawal said, adding, "But, frequent usage will bring down the cost."

On November 15, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had held a meeting with officials of various departments to control the air pollution.

What is cloud seeding?

Cloud seeding or weather modification is an artificial way to induce moisture in the clouds so as to cause a rainfall. In this process, either silver iodide or dry ice is dumped onto the clouds by using an aircraft or an artillery gun which leads to a rain shower.

Where has it been used?

China frequently uses weather modification system to create rainfall during droughts. In July this year, China allocated 199 million yuan ($29.76 million) to spend on its cloud seeding program to prevent drought.

In June this year, a team of scientists from Beijing offered China's cloud seeding technology to India to fight droughts in Maharashtra's Marathwada region.

During 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese organisers fired a barrage of rockets in the air ensuring clear skies for the opening ceremony.

In 2009, Chinese scientists fired Beijing skies with iodide sticks hoping to end a long spell of drought, the seeding however caused an early snowfall which disrupted air and road traffic.

In United States, cloud seeding is occasionally used by ski resorts to induce snowfall. Cloud seeding is being used to recharge the ground water in arid UAE.

How effective is it?

The success of cloud seeding depends on the weather conditions of the area. Some moisture in the atmosphere is needed to cause precipitation.

Environmentalists have raised concerns regarding secondary air and water pollution as an outcome of chemicals used to cause precipitation.