NEW DELHI: In an open letter to Supreme Court, a group of environmentalists have urged the apex court not to direct the Centre or the States to invest in “expensive” and “inefficient” smog towers to fight the pollution menace in the National Capital as it will only benefit te manufacturers and the sellers.
The SC, earlier this week had the asked the Central Government to take a concrete decision within a time frame of 10 days on whether the smog towers to be installed or not.
Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder of Care for Air India, wrote in the letter that leading environmentalists and researchers have unanimously said that outdoor air purifiers are inefficient to the extent of being useless.
Further, the letter read, “We earnestly request the Supreme Court — please do not direct any governments, local, State or Central, to spend public money to buy expensive smog towers. These are ineffective in bringing down PM2.5 levels and may even add to pollution when the dirty filters are disposed-off in our already overflowing landfills and burnt.”
At its full potential or so called 100 per cent efficiency, a smog tower similar to that in Xi’an, China will only be able to purify 0.00007 per cent of the Capital’s air, said Sarath Guttikunda, co-director, Urban Emissions Info, and Care for Air India expert.
Detailing about the functioning of the smog tower if installed in Delhi, he said that if on imagine Delhi as a box the dimensions of its air shed will be 80 km X 80 km. The atmospheric height is at least 1 km (3 km in summers), the average wind speed will be 2 m/sec. The volume of air passing through this city is more than 5 trillion m3/hr. The smog tower’s capacity is only a fraction of that, which is 4,16,000 m3/hr.
The academician’s group denying the smog tower idea said that the indoor air purifiers are more successful than outdoor ones as the ratio is more favorable. Further criticizing the idea they said that the only benefit from will be increased public awareness and political mileage. But, what is worse that only the manufacturers and the sellers benefit out of the deal.
It will be more beneficial if the SC directs the industries to install filter in the chimneys to control their emissions, said Lavkare
She added that other countries like China have not brought their pollution levels down by the help of smog tower but implementing stricter norms, strengthening industrial emissions standards, phasing out small and polluting factories and outdated industrial capacities, upgrading industrial boilers, promoting cleaner fuel alternatives and strengthened vehicle emission standards.