India’s first functional smog tower inaugurated near Anand Vihar metro station in Delhi

New Delhi: Delhi got the country’s first functional smog tower near the metro station amid widespread concern over pollution levels in the national capital. Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav virtually inaugurated the smog tower at Anand Vihar on Tuesday.

The smog tower is a structure designed as large-scale air purifiers to reduce pollution particles in surrounding areas. Built by Tata Company, the tower has a capacity of 1,000 cubic metres per second, said an ANI report. Forty fans have been installed to provide a design airflow rate of 1000 m3/sec.

The filtration system being used in the smog tower has reportedly been designed by the University of Minnesota with a likely efficiency of 90 per cent. The tower with a height of over 20 meters is of downdraft type with pollution or particulate matter entering from the top of the tower and clean air coming out from the bottom.

On Tuesday, the government also launched a portal, PRANA, to track the progress of the National Clean Air Programme, with Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav saying the country is committed to ensuring clean air and blue skies to everybody.

During the launch event held at the ministry headquarters here on the occasion of ‘International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies’, Yadav said it was experimental technology and its impact will be observed for two years. “India is committed to ensure clean air and blue skies to all the people of the country, assuring them a healthy and productive life,” Yadav said during the event.

Yadav later tweeted, “The focus of policies of Prime Minister Shri @NarendraModi ji’s govt are intertwined with sustainable utilisation, protection & conservation of public goods and environment. Happy to share that on International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies inaugurated a Smog Tower in Delhi.”

The Union minister said that in 2018, out of 132 cities, only six had particulate matter (PM) concentration less than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which increased to 11 cities in 2019 and 28 in 2020, adding that 86 cities have shown better air quality in 2019 in comparison to 2018, which increased to 104 cities in 2020.

Yadav further said, “We must look into how policy intervention can help address the issue of air pollution. Air, water, earth are all public goods which can be saved with preventive policies,” adding “We are launching the PRANA portal and installing smog tower at Anand Vihar in Delhi. This smog tower is an experiment to see if the technology can be used in the future and reduce pollution. We are committed to clean air for blue skies.”

Speaking at the event, MoS, Environment, Ashwini Choubey said a day like International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies is marked/celebrated only when the situation is grave. The event was also attended by Central Pollution Control Board Chairman Tanmay Kumar.

Notably, the smog tower was to be installed in 10 months, as directed by the Supreme Court, post which the performance of the tower was to be evaluated for two years. The ministry sought three months extension from the court in the wake of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tower, proposed by IIT Bombay, is of downdraft (polluted air comes in from the top of the tower and clean air comes out of the bottom) type for localized reduction of PM2.5 and PM10.

An Advisory Committee, headed by the CPCB chairman, and comprising experts from IITs, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Engineers India Limited (EIL), NTPC Ltd. and NBCC India Ltd. has also been constituted to oversee the progress, review the performance and guide on improvement and optimisation.

Earlier, a 24-metre tall smog tower, the city`s first such structure was installed in the Connaught Place area. On August 23, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had inaugurated the smog tower at Connaught Place.