India’s capital New Delhi has opened its first “smog tower”.
The tower, opened on Monday, aimed at reducing the air pollution blamed for thousands of premature deaths every year.
“Today is a big day for Delhi in its fight for clean air against pollution,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said after the inauguration.
The installation “is being looked at in an experimental way. We will analyze the data and if it’s effective, more towers will be built across Delhi,” Kejriwal added.
The tower cost $2 million and critics say erecting a sufficient number to clean the air substantially across the city would cost huge amounts of public money. Rather, they believe, efforts should be directed at the sources of the smog, such as vehicle exhaust, heavy and small-scale industries, construction activity, fuel, and waste combustion, etc.
“Let’s just be clear that this is futile, an absolute waste,” Karthik Ganesan from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water told AFP.
“Now that taxpayers’ money has been spent, let Delhi be the test case for all other Indian cities… to ensure no other city spends on such ideas which we can’t afford,” he added.
India has 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities, according to the World Health Organization.
Concentrations of tiny deadly particles in Delhi’s air regularly exceed safe limits by up to 20 times, particularly in winter.
Forty giant fans on the 25-meter (82-foot) tower will pump 1,000 cubic meters of air per second through filters that halve the number of harmful particulates in a radius of one square kilometer (0.4 square miles), according to engineers.
In 2018 China built a much larger 60-meter smog tower in the polluted city of Xian, but the experiment has not spread to other cities so far.