Every winter, Delhi-NCR is covered in a thick blanket of smog and the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority’ has to declare a public health emergency. After AQI levels escalated following the annual episode of stubble-burning last year, the Supreme Court instructed the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to erect smog towers. The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) got onboard, by submitting a proposal to the CPCB. By April, smog towers under testing mode were to be installed at Anand Vihar and Connaught Place. But due to the subsequent lockdowns, the deadline was flouted. On July 29, IIT-B backed out of the project, but came back onboard after the court threatened contempt action.
However, experts are unsure of the effectiveness of solitary smog towers spread few and far in-between Delhi-NCR.
“This is pseudoscience the Supreme Court believes in. There is no scientific evidence that says smog towers actually help. If smog towers are the solution, we will need lakhs and lakhs of smog towers. The judiciary should base its decision on evidence and experts’ comments, instead of notions and intuitions,” says Activist and Swechha Founder Vimlendu Jha, adding, “In January, Gautam Gambhir put up a smog tower at Lajpat Nagar. Did anybody do a survey to figure out whether it had any impact? No.”
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August 13, 2020