Noida: Uttar Pradesh’s first 20-meter tall anti-smog tower that became operational on November 17 has opened a debate in the community. While some residents appreciate its installation as a small yet important way to curb pollution, others question its efficacy.
One of the prime concerns the residents have is about the location of the tower. The residents point out that the smog tower was built on a green belt area of 400 square metres along the Delhi-Noida border, DND Flyway. In addition the residents raised the question that there is no housing society or residential area around the smog tower.
Noida’s smog tower will cover an area of one square kilometre and help mitigate air pollution during the winter season. 40 fans and 10,000 filters were installed in the tower in Noida. The height of the tower is 20 metres. The anti-smog tower will work at a filtration rate (the capacity of the tower to clean air per cubic metre) of 80,000 cubic metres per hour.
After Diwali, most Noida sectors have registered hazardous air quality. According to aqicn.org, the AQI of Noida on Friday at 12:00 am in Sector 62 was 679 which is categorized as hazardous. In Sector 125, the situation was the same, AQI was 347 categorised in the hazardous category. In Sector 116 and Sector 1, the AQI was 280 and 231 respectively, categorized as unhealthy. In Knowledge Park III and Knowledge park V, the AQI is 327, 330 respectively, which is categorized as hazardous.
In a talk with CitySpidey, Rajiva Singh, a resident of Noida and NOFAA president said, “This smog tower will definitely benefit Noida residents. It will have a very small impact on the level of pollution in the area, but nevertheless, it is a step forward. We need several of these to make some sizable impact.” but then he mentioned a list of misgivings he has about the tower. Says he, “The cost of installation of 4 crores and maintenance of 37 lacs per year are very costly. We have to address the root cause. The location of the tower is not quite good. The roadside dust needs to be cleaned, industrial waste needs proper dumping, a shift towards electric vehicles is needed. Authority should take care of these things first.”
Vikrant Tongad, a Noida based environmental activist said, “This smog tower is a waste of money. The coast of the tower is 4 crores and the maintenance of 37 lakhs is very costly. It is just an experiment, not a proven technology. The location is not good. Built on a green belt which is not good. It should have been installed in a residential area or highly polluted area. Delhi has two smog towers but there is no difference in AQI. After the installation of this smog tower the authorities may get complacent and may not work on the root cause of the problem.”
Rakhi Sinha, a resident of Sector 28, “There is a green area around the smog tower, with less traffic and there is enough vacant space for the smoke to escape. It may not help our part of the city and the new stretches of high rises. Especially our sectors starting from 28 to 62”
Nisha Rai, a resident of Sector 77 said, “The location of the smog tower is not good. Sector 15A is a VIP area and behind it, there is an OKHLA bird sanctuary. The AQI of that area is quite better than others. Has this smog tower been installed only for the VIPs?”
CitySpidey reached out to Pushkar Chandna, a retired engineer and resident of Noida to understand the working of a smog tower.
What is a Smog Tower?
A smog tower is a structure designed to work as a large-scale air purifier, fitted with multiple layers of filters which trap fine dust particles suspended in the air as it passes through them.
Air is drawn through fans installed at the bottom of the tower, passed through filters, and then released from the top of the tower.
Has anyone else experimented with a smog tower before?
The first smog tower of Delhi was installed with the collaboration between the IITs at Mumbai and Delhi, and the University of Minnesota. Earlier, smog towers have been installed in countries such as the Netherlands, China, South Korea and Poland. The first tower was built in 2015, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, made by Dutch craftsman Daan Roosegaarde.
Chandna says, “It's just an experiment, not a proven technology. However, it should have been located at a site with maximum pollution to test its efficacy. Techno-economic feasibility should have been done to evaluate cost benefits. Long term solutions must be given topmost priority.
Moreover, to mitigate pollution people should be made aware to use buses/ public transport and reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Authorities should ban high sulphur fuel. The use of green fuels in industries should increase. The industries such as thermal power plants and other industries generating waste such as e-waste generating and lead batteries must be monitored to see if they are not contributing to the pollution.