The Aam Aadmi Party government said on Friday it will install giant outdoor air purifiers at five highly polluted locations in Delhi, unveiling more measures to battle the capital’s smog.
A mist fountain will also be set up in a yet-to-be identified location, transport minister Satyendar Jain said amid a steady spike in pollution levels, which experts say can cause several ailments ranging from respiratory problems to even cancer in humans.
Jain said the systems, to be installed by mid-December, will be placed at road intersections in Anand Vihar, ITO, Sarai Kale Khan, Kashmere Gate and IIT (Delhi) or AIIMS.
The units works on the lines of a home air purifier by trapping particulate matter, besides improving dispersion of pollutants that remain suspended just above ground in winter.
Experts, however, are skeptical about the system, which has a functional radius of 20 meters and could fail when pollution levels are too high.
Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) – a Delhi-based research group — said it was not a good idea.
“Purification works in a confined space, not in the open. The government should focus on other short-term measures,” she said.
Last winter – a period when air toxicity jumps manifold -– the AAP government had twice introduced a rationing measure that allowed vehicles to ply on alternate days based on registration numbers ending with odd or even digits. The effort, however, failed to yield the desired results.
An official said the Wind Augmentation and Air Purifying Unit (WAYU) — developed by IIT Bombay and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) – can potentially reduce particulate emission by 40%-60% during peak traffic hours.
The government believes the move will indicate its intent to improve Delhi’s air quality which is expected to deteriorate with farmers in neighbouring states such as Punjab and Haryana starting their annual crop residue burning.
On Friday, particulate matter (PM) level in Delhi’s most polluted zone — Anand Vihar — touched 960 micrograms/cubic meter against a safe level of 60.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) also said in its Diwali forecast that PM 2.5 — minute particulates that penetrate the lungs and cause breathing ailments — would increase by up to 20%.
Sources said that open air purification is not a tried and tested measure as one system was installed in Hong Kong in April 2015 without much success.