New Delhi opened its first “Smog Tower”; Expert says “absolute waste” | environment news

The movement aims to reduce air pollution blamed for thousands of premature deaths each year, but experts are skeptical.

India’s capital, New Delhi, has opened its first “foggy tower” with the aim of curbing air pollution responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year, but experts are skeptical.

Concentrations of deadly fine particulate matter in New Delhi’s air regularly exceed safe limits by up to 20 times, particularly in winter when its 20 million residents are enveloped in a noxious gray blanket of smog.

Forty giant fans on the 25-meter (82-foot) tower will pump 1,000 cubic meters of air per second through filters that halve the number of harmful particles within a radius of one square kilometer (0.4 square miles), according to engineers.

“Today is a great day for Delhi in its fight for clean air against pollution,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday after the opening near the busy shopping district of Connaught Place.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, center, inaugurates the Smog Tower in New Delhi [Money Sharma/AFP]

The installation is being looked at empirically. We will analyze the data and if it is effective, more towers will be built across Delhi.

“Sterile… utter waste”

The tower cost $2 million and critics say building enough to massively clean the air across the city would cost huge amounts of public money, and that efforts would be better directed at the smog sources.

These include vehicle exhaust, heavy and small industry, construction activities, burning of waste and fuel and, in winter, burning of crops in nearby areas.

“Let’s be clear that this is futile, an absolute waste,” Karthik Ganesan of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water told AFP.

“Now that taxpayers’ money is spent, let Delhi be a test case for all other Indian cities…to ensure that no other city is spent on such ideas that we cannot afford,” he added.

Workers walk in front of a smog tower built to purify the air in New Delhi [Money Sharma/AFP]

India has 14 of the 15 most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

A 2020 study in The Lancet found that there were 1.67 million deaths in the country attributable to air pollution in 2019, including nearly 17,500 in Delhi.

In 2018, China built a much larger 60-meter-high smog tower in the polluted city of Xi’an, but the experiment has not spread to other cities yet.

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