A fresh row seems to have broken out between environment minister Gopal Rai and Delhi Pollution Control Commission (DPCC) chairperson Ashwani Kumar over smog towers.
Minister Rai last week said the investigation into the causes behind Delhi’s air pollution had stalled, but PM Kumar reportedly first questioned the cost of the project and then questioned the findings. Said to have raised doubts, the minister wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday, asking him to halt the probe. Disciplinary action against Kumar for “failing to reopen the smog tower after the monsoon period”.
Rai’s letter stated that the Supreme Court had directed the Delhi government to set up smog towers at Connaught Place. Although the smog towers are closed during the monsoon to prevent damage to equipment, DPCC chairman Kumar said, “We are preventing the smog towers from restarting after the monsoon ends, in clear violation of the court order.” ‘, the letter states.
In 2020, the Delhi Cabinet decided to set up smog towers and conduct a two-year pilot study on their functioning. The tower he began operating in 2021. The total cost sanctioned for the installation of the tower and the study by Delhi Institute of Technology and Bombay Institute of Technology was Rs 20,402.43 crore, excluding electricity and other costs, with NBCC acting as the project management consultant.
In January, when a proposal to replace the smog tower filters was submitted by Project In Charge, Ashwani Kumar commented that this was a white elephant and wondered whether it was achieving any results or whether it was polluting. He questioned whether this is leading to mitigation. He pointed out that Anand Vihar remains one of the polluted places (where another smog tower has been set up by the CPCB),” Rai’s letter said. It is written in.
Rai also said in January that Anwar Ali Khan, who is in charge of the project, was analyzing the tower’s performance and needed uninterrupted operation, which would require payment of operation and maintenance costs to NBCC. He also pointed out that he said it needed to be done immediately.
IIT Bombay submitted its report on September 30, but instead of formulating policies and action plans based on the report’s findings, Rai’s letter said on October 10 that “the impact of smog towers is I submitted a memo stating that it was definitely there.” The distance is very short, so the project must be finished. ” Rai added: “As a result, the assets… now lie unused during peak pollution seasons.”
The letter further states that Kumar “failed to implement the decisions of the Council of Ministers, arbitrarily suspended O&M (operation and maintenance) payments, failed to take a decision on the merits of the research and submitted the same to the Cabinet”. He added that action should be taken “for what was not done.”
Rai also seeks suspension and disciplinary action against Khan. Khan initially said the tower would help create a clean air zone, but later said the tower would have no impact, according to the letter. “His change of opinion was not supported by changes in scientific data and this led to the closure of the smog tower…” the letter reads.
In addition to seeking immediate reopening of the tower and release of operation and maintenance funds, Rai also submitted the IIT and Bombay reports to the cabinet and the Supreme Court for further action, apprised the court of the incident and requested that If not, he asked them to report it to the court. “The Delhi government may invite the displeasure and contempt of the Supreme Court.”
The anti-pollution group sent a letter to the Environment Ministry last month presenting an evaluation of the two-year project, saying it reduced particulate matter by only about 12% to 13% at a distance of 100 meters from the smog tower.
The official, who requested anonymity, said the impact of the smog towers was not significant enough to warrant further spending.
“Based on the data, it is clear that smog towers only have an impact at distances of up to 100 meters. It is not a viable solution to Delhi’s problems. For this reason, the assessment called for the towers to be closed. ” said the official.
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According to the IIT-Bombay report, the ability of smog towers to reduce concentrations of PM 2.5 and PM 10 is 12% and 13% at distances of more than 100 meters, and the effectiveness is approximately at both distances of 300 meters and 500 meters. It states that it was 16%. .
The DPCC then sent a letter to the Ministry of the Environment, proposing that the tower be closed as it was found to be ineffective in combating air pollution.
In October, Rai wrote a letter to Kejriwal saying that senior officials, including Kumar, had not attended meetings regarding the implementation of GRAP measures. We have requested that the event be held.” ”.