NEW DELHI: When air pollution in India's capital reaches lung-choking levels, authorities plan to wheel out their big gun to deal with it.The trouble is, experts have told Arab News, it will make little difference.
The $40,000 vehicle-mounted cannon sprays atomized water into the air, and strips it of dust and particulate matter. The local government in Delhi tested the cannon this week in the city's most polluted area, Anad Vihar, and there are plans to roll it out city wide.
Experts, however, are skeptical. "This is a temporary local measure, not a long-lasting solution to the problem," Anumita Roychowdhury of the Center for Science and Environment in Delhi told Arab News.
"It will not improve the environment. Instead of looking at temporary measures, the government should focus on a comprehensive action plan for more systematic changes in the city to contain air pollution."
Suni Dahiya of Greenpeace said: "This is not a solution to pollution. It's more tokenism and symbolism than an attempt to attack the source of the problem."Sushant Saini of Cloud Tech, the company that manufactures the water cannon, said it was useful in an emergency situation.
"The whole concept of the anti-smog gun is that when you have a situation where you have to shut down schools and colleges and other important buildings, then you can use this gun to reduce air pollution," he told Arab News.
"The device is already in operation at construction sites and cement factories to control the dust levels there."But he admitted: "It is only for instant relief and not a long-term solution."
Pollution in Delhi has worsened since early November. The Air Quality Index in central Delhi on Thursday afternoon was 482. Anything above 400 is categorized as severe, and may have respiratory ill-effects even on healthy people, and serious health effects on people with lung or heart disease.
Experts say the main cause is smoke from stubble-burning in neighboring states, combined with natural atmospheric moisture. The Delhi government has raising parking charges to control the number of vehicles on the roads, and banned the use of diesel generators until March.