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Smog towers are not effective in reducing the toxic air in Delhi | Special Report

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To control air pollution, the Delhi government has installed two smog towers following a Supreme Court ruling in August 2021. India Today has conducted a ground check of the smog tower installed by the Central Pollution Control Board)

Milan Sharma

New Delhi ,UPDATED: November 4, 2022 2:24 PM IST

India Today’s special report on the contribution of smog towers to reducing the toxic air in Delhi.

By Milan Sharma: Delhi’s air quality has now passed the toxic limit, in the ‘severe’ category with an (Air Quality Index) AQI of over 500-600. Today, the contribution of stubble burning to the pollution of the national capital is more than 34%, which is the highest this season.

Nearly 3,000 fire incidents have been reported today. That is also the highest of the season. To stop the pollution threat, the Delhi government has erected two smog towers following a Supreme Court ruling in August 2021.


These 24 meter high smog towers have the capacity to clean 1000 cubic meters of air within a radius of one kilometer per second. Equipped with 40 fans and 5,000 air filters, the tower draws in polluted air and releases filtered air.

So, do smog towers work to reduce pollution in Delhi NCR at all?

“In a word, no. Smog towers are absolutely ineffective at reducing pollution or stopping PM2.5 or PM10 from abatement. Outdoor air purifiers are compared to installing air conditioners outside on a particularly hot day. One study suggested it would take at least 40,000 such smog towers or air purifiers to make any impact,” said Polash Mukherjee, Air Quality, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) India.

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“The problem with them is that they’re only slightly effective in the areas around them, that too, down to about 100 yards or close, so as long as they run before that time,” he said.

“What CAQM has done this time for the first time is its GRAP actions based on predictions and predictions. This should also be linked to health advice, especially for the vulnerable and the most exposed/old people and children. Instead of dealing with smog towers, you should just tackle the causes of pollution at the source,” he noted.

An RTI filed by Amit Gupta, an environmentalist this year, according to the CPCB showed that the smog tower reduced PM10 pollution levels by up to 27% at a distance of 100 meters during the period. The RTI response showed that the CPCB data showed that the smog tower reduced PM2.5 levels at a distance of 100 meters by 13% in December last year, 7% in March this year and 17% in April .

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Amit Gupta, environmental and RTI activist said: “It was previously claimed that smog towers are effective in a radius of 1 kilometer, but it is actually only effective in a radius of 100 meters. In the RTI they replied that the smog tower has affected the population for several months from 17 to 37% We have to think about whether we need such expensive technology that costs Rs 22 crore to build and requires an annual maintenance of Rs 2 crore.The Delhi government is on a green cession of ₹1. 000 crore that they have collected that can be used to stop other sources of pollution in Delhi.”

India Today has conducted a ground check of the smog tower by the CPCB, located in Anand Vihar. It was found that the ambient AQI right next to the smog tower showed PM 10 at 791 while PM 2.5 was higher than 275. At another smog tower in Connaught Place in central Delhi, there is little impact on the pollution beyond 300 meters from where it is installed by the Delhi government.

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A team from IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi and DPCC has submitted the first research report after a year’s completion. The smog towers were installed on an experimental basis. Now the data clearly shows that these smog towers are hardly Delhi’s solution to clean air.


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