The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that smog towers are not a “practical solution” to curb pollution in the national capital mainly due to their enormous cost and they could be used as a museum piece for dissemination of technical information about the control of air pollution.
The report by the DPCC said that if a 17% reduction in pollution in a 100-metre radius was to be considered favourable, then Delhi would need more than 40,000 such towers to cover its geographical area. It has also been said that the two smog towers installed at Anand Vihar and Connaught Place have not been effective. The two smog towers were intended to be experimental devices, and the DPCC pointed out that the results do not support the significant financial burden on the public coffers.
Smog towers can only provide clean air up to 200 meters away, thus it is not feasible to provide clean air inside a kilometer, said DPCC. A smog tower requires approximately Rs 1.5 crore in annual operation and maintenance, and an annual electricity bill of about Rs 90 lakh brings the total cost of operation and maintenance to roughly Rs 20 lakh each month.
Each smog tower can only reduce pollution by 17% within a 100-metre radius and costs about Rs 15 lakh per month to operate. Given the 1,483 square km that make up the national capital, 47,229 pollution towers will be needed, at an estimated cost of Rs 11,80,725 crore.
According to an IIT Delhi study, smog towers barely make a small difference in air pollution—roughly 13-15%t—within a 200-meter radius. There is a decrease in air pollution due to seasonal causes as well.
Last week, while hearing the case on the pollution crisis in the national capital, the Supreme Court ordered that a non-functional anti-smog tower in Connaught Place, Delhi, restart after seven months. In 2021, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated the country’s first smog tower,’ an experimental setup worth Rs 20 crore to purify air.