Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said the state cabinet has approved setting up a smog tower in Connaught Place, and that the Delhi government has approved a budget of ₹20 crore for the project, he said which should be complete in 10 months.
“The central government is already working on a smog tower in Anand Vihar. The one by the Delhi government will be set up in Connaught Place,” Kejriwal said in a video press briefing on Friday, adding that the move is in line with the government’s seven-point action plan for combating air pollution that was announced by Kejriwal earlier this week.
The action plan also includes a separate strategy for dust control, management of 13 pollution hot spots, a war room to monitor pollution levels in real-time, a mobile app for registering complaints and a tree transplantation policy.
Smog towers are structures designed to work as large-scale air purifiers. They are usually fitted with multiple layers of air filters, which clean the air of pollutants as it passes through them.
Kejriwal however said the CP smog tower would work differently from the ones in China.
“The smog tower in China sucks air through a panel in the bottom and releases clean air through a vent above, while the one in Connaught Place will suck unclean air through a vent located above and release clean air at a lower height,” the chief minister said.
D Saha, former head of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) air laboratory, said smog towers are not suitable to Delhi’s meteorological conditions. “There is a constant intrusion of dust in Delhi because of various geographical and local factors. How much can a filter suck? A model such as this cannot be successful for a city like Delhi,” said Saha.
A smog tower, hailed as Delhi’s first, was set up in the Lajpat Nagar central market in January this year by the traders’ association in Lajpat Nagar with the help of east Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir.
Residents and traders of the south Delhi area said the smog tower is useful and helps clean air in its immediate surroundings.
General secretary of the Lajpat Nagar traders association , Ashwani Marwah said such initiatives were the need of the hour keeping in the pollution levels in the Capital. “It is just like a large-scale air purifier. When we keep air purifiers at home during the winter, then why not have such large-scale devices to clean up air in markets and such places where the daily footfall is high. I believe it’s worth the cost,” he said.
The Supreme Court had on January 13 ordered the Delhi government to build a smog tower at Connaught Place in three months. On the same day, the court also ordered a smog tower to be installed in Anand Vihar by the Central Pollution Control Board within the same deadline. On July 21, the Supreme Court had noted that the authorities did not comply with the January 13 order. The apex court had warned it would initiate contempt proceedings against IIT-Bombay for threatening to back out of the proposal to construct smog towers in Delhi. Both projects are yet to materialise.
A senior official in the environment department said the Connaught Place smog tower plan mentions a 20 metre-high device. “It is expected to reduce 50% of the particulate matter load in an area of 1 km in the direction of the wind, as well as 200m each along its sides and against the direction of the wind,” said the official, who asked not to be named.