5,000 signatures reached
To: Shri Gopal Rai, Delhi Cabinet Minister for Environment &Forest; Shri Sanjeev Khirwar, Chairperson- Delhi Pollution Control Board; Shri Ravi Shanker Prasad, Chairman- Central Pollution Control Board, Supreme Court
Smog Towers won’t fix Delhi’s pollution
No more money be allocated, or spent, on the installation of smog towers.
Why is this important?
The Delhi government, in an ambitious project to reduce air pollution (by two thirds in the next 5 years) in the city has decided to allocate 30 crore rupees for the installation of Smog Towers in its annual budget1. However, experts have expressed their concerns over such ‘band-aid fixes’ and how they could prove to be more damaging than useful in the future.
A prototype tower has been fitted at Lajpat Nagar with the collaborative effort of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), University of Minnesota, IIT Mumbai and IIT Delhi2. This 20 ft tower was set up at a cost of 7 lakhs and will need an additional amount of INR 30,000/ month for maintenance. With a limited radius of 50 meters, Delhi will require 2.5 million similar smog towers to curb air pollution and a capital investment of INR 1,700 billion3.
In November, the Supreme Court had directed4 the Centre and the Delhi government to prepare a plan to install ‘smog towers’ across the capital to deal with air pollution2. In December, members and advisers of Care for Air, a non-profit had written an open letter to the Supreme Court urging them not to direct any governments, local, state or central, to spend public money to purchase expensive smog towers. They believe these are completely useless in bringing down PM2.5 levels by any significant amount, and could even add to pollution when their filters are disposed of in our already overflowing landfills, and eventually burnt. Air pollution, specifically the more lethal PM2.5 particulate matter can only be controlled by eliminating emissions at all known sources. Any other way is bound to be inefficient, ineffective and unscientific, and can only buy time – but which we are paying with our breaths every day. The air we care about is the air we breathe5.
Outdoor air purifiers are inadvisable. Such installations give citizens a false sense of complacency and assurance, making them feel they are getting healthier and have access to air of better quality. Such populist decisions make people feel that the government is doing something positive to solve this giant problem. At this point in a health emergency, we need much more than reassurance.
We need action – and not just any action. We need strong action that yields the desired result: a real and significant reduction in PM2.5 levels5. Sign this petition demanding that no more money be allocated, or spent, on the installation of smog towers!