Giant fans to improve Delhi’s air, experts skeptical

Forty giant fans are being built in central Delhi in a new attempt to improve the air quality of the Indian capital, but the initiative is criticized by conservationists, especially because it consumes electricity produced by coal-fired power stations.

This two-million-dollar project consists of a 25-meter-high tower that will filter the air over an area of ​​one square kilometer, in the upscale shops and cafes of Connaught Place.

Each winter, this relatively chic district, which has many colonial buildings, suffocates under a thick fog of pollution.

“Smog is an annual phenomenon linked to particular causes. So we are trying to contain it”, explains Anwar Ali Khan, the project manager.

The engineer explains that the goal is to reduce the amount of fine particles PM 2.5 (less than 2.5 micrometers) by 50% and that other towers could be built elsewhere in the city if this experiment bears fruit.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the capital had become a “gas chamber” due to the intense pollution.

But many experts say this initiative will not change anything and only gives the “impression” that the authorities are acting.

“Building towers against smog has never been, and never will be, a solution,” said Sunil Dahiya, of the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research.

“If you really want to deal with pollution, you have to tackle it at the source.”

Sunil Dahiya noted that the tower would be connected to the general network, which is 70% supplied by coal-fired power stations.

“It will only add pollution elsewhere in the country.”

China, the world’s largest polluter, had in 2018 built a 60-meter-high chimney in the heart of the city of Xian, which was supposed to purify the air. The experience has not been repeated elsewhere in the country.

Every year at the start of the winter season, the air in New Delhi turns into a toxic mixture of fumes from surrounding agricultural fires, exhaust gases and industrial emissions, trapped above the city by warmer temperatures. cool and light winds.

Giant fans on the construction site of a tower against pollution, July 21, 2021 in New Delhi (AFP – Money SHARMA)

The authorities’ attempts to halve the number of vehicles in circulation have not produced the desired effects.

Engineers hope the fan tower will be completed on May 15, India’s Independence Day.

“The goal is not to clean all the air in Delhi but to create special areas where people can breathe,” says Anwar Ali Khan.

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