Experts pour cold water on Delhi’s $40,000 anti-smog cannon

The anti-smog device being tested in New Delhi. (AFP)
Updated 22 December 2017

Experts pour cold water on Delhi’s $40,000 anti-smog cannon

NEW DELHI: When air pollution in India’s capital reaches lung-choking levels, authorities plan to wheel out their big gun to deal with it.
The trouble is, experts have told Arab News, it will make little difference.
The $40,000 vehicle-mounted cannon sprays atomized water into the air, and strips it of dust and particulate matter. The local government in Delhi tested the cannon this week in the city’s most polluted area, Anad Vihar, and there are plans to roll it out city wide.
Experts, however, are skeptical. “This is a temporary local measure, not a long-lasting solution to the problem,” Anumita Roychowdhury of the Center for Science and Environment in Delhi told Arab News.
“It will not improve the environment. Instead of looking at temporary measures, the government should focus on a comprehensive action plan for more systematic changes in the city to contain air pollution.”
Suni Dahiya of Greenpeace said: “This is not a solution to pollution. It’s more tokenism and symbolism than an attempt to attack the source of the problem.”
Sushant Saini of Cloud Tech, the company that manufactures the water cannon, said it was useful in an emergency situation.
“The whole concept of the anti-smog gun is that when you have a situation where you have to shut down schools and colleges and other important buildings, then you can use this gun to reduce air pollution,” he told Arab News.
“The device is already in operation at construction sites and cement factories to control the dust levels there.”
But he admitted: “It is only for instant relief and not a long-term solution.”
Pollution in Delhi has worsened since early November. The Air Quality Index in central Delhi on Thursday afternoon was 482. Anything above 400 is categorized as severe, and may have respiratory ill-effects even on healthy people, and serious health effects on people with lung or heart disease.
Experts say the main cause is smoke from stubble-burning in neighboring states, combined with natural atmospheric moisture. The Delhi government has raising parking charges to control the number of vehicles on the roads, and banned the use of diesel generators until March.


Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

Updated 8 min 52 sec ago

Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

  • Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election
  • Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year

MOSCOW: A Russian diplomat said on Monday a group of more than 30 suspected Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus last week were only passing through Minsk and were on their way to an unnamed Latin American state.
Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election.
Russian officials have dismissed the accusation and described the men as employees of a private security firm. The Russian state says it does not use mercenaries.
The standoff could further strain relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia, which soured after the neighbors failed to agree on an oil supply contract for this year.
“Their final destination was one of the states in the Latin American region,” the diplomat, Kirill Pletnyev, was quoted as saying on Monday by the Russian RIA news agency.
Belarus granted Pletnyev consular access to the detained men, RIA added. His quotes did not name the Latin American country or give any more details on the identity of the men.
Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year, describing them as military specialists.
On Friday, Alexander Agafonov, the head of the Belarusian investigative group that is handling the case, said the arrested men — some of whom were wearing army fatigues — had given “contradictory accounts” about their plans.
He was quoted as saying that 11 of the arrested men had told authorities they planned to fly on to Venezuela, 15 to Turkey, two to Cuba and one to Syria. Another said he did not know his destination, while three refused to make a statement.
Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has said he wants a full explanation from Russia, faces his biggest electoral test in years on Aug. 9 as public anger swells over his handling of COVID-19, the economy and human rights.