Giant fans are improving the air in Delhi, experts are skeptical

Forty giant fans are building in central Delhi in a new attempt to improve the air quality of the Indian capital, but the initiative has been criticized by security guards, especially as it consumes electricity produced from coal-fired power plants.

This $ 2 million project consists of a 25-foot-tall tower that will filter air on an area of ​​one square mile, in the posh shops and cafes of Connaught Place.

Every winter, this relatively posh neighborhood, which has many colonial buildings, suffocates under a thick fog of pollution.

“Smog is an annual phenomenon associated with certain causes. So we try to control it,” explains Anwar Ali Khan, project manager.

The engineer explains that the goal is to reduce the amount of fine particles of 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’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said the capital had become a “gas chamber” due to heavy pollution.

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

“Building anti-smog towers 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 fight it at the source.”

Sunil Dahiya noted that the tower will be connected to the general grid, which is 70% supplied by coal-fired power plants.

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

China, the world’s largest polluter, built a 60-meter-high chimney in the heart of Xian City in 2018 to purify the air. The experience was not 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 smoke from surrounding agricultural fires, exhaust fumes and industrial emissions, trapped above the city by warmer temperatures, cold and light winds.

Giant fans at the construction site of the anti-pollution tower, July 21, 2021 in New Delhi (AFP – Money SHARMA)

Attempts by the authorities to halve the number of vehicles in traffic did not produce 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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