160 sorties failed but BMC to go for #cloudseeding again


This image explaining cloud seeding shows the ...

This image explaining cloud seeding shows the chemical either silver iodine or dry ice being dumped onto the cloud which then becomes a rain shower. The process shown in the upper right is what is happening in the cloud and the process of condensation to the introduced chemicals. Sources for image: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Linah Baliga, TNN Aug 1, 2012,

MUMBAI: Having failed to make artificial rains despite 160 attempts in 2009, the civic body will resort to the same technique this year to make for the shortfall. On Thursday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will hold a video conference with officials from India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and Israeli firm Mekorot to decide on cloud seeding methods in catchment areas of lakes supplying water to the city. Mekorot will assist BMC with technological infrastructure like radar and aircraft.

Though civic officials admitted that last time they were unsuccessful, they said this year they are trying to correct the past mistakes. “This time we are doing it under expert guidance, as we had not sought help from agencies like IMD and IITM earlier. After discussing it with IITM they have come to a conclusion that cloud seeding is now a well established science. It’s a proven thing that cloud seeding makes inefficient clouds efficient,” additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said.


IITM has told BMC that Israel has extensively developed its technology on cloud seeding and has been using it for over 50 years. “Fortunately, we had a MoU with Israel’s water and energy department in June, last year. Since the past 15 days, we have been in touch with Israel’s national water company Mekorot to undertake this experiment,” he said.

In 2009, attempts were made over Tansa and Modak Sagar lakes with the help of Hyderabad-based Agni Aviation and the civic body spent Rs 8 crore on the project. Civic officials from the hydraulic department claimed that the experiment failed as BMC was unable to calculate the difference in amount of rainfall in catchment areas after cloud seeding was carried out.

Jalota said that the last experiment in 2009 at Tansa and Modak Sagar was done with the help of an aircraft and also by burning silver iodide crystals.

This time around, the experiment will involve sprinkling of silver iodide on clouds over Tansa, Bhatsa, Upper Vaitarna and Modak Sagar lakes to induce precipitation and subsequently artificial rains. “The technicians will be sitting inside the aircraft to monitor every step. The cloud seeding will be done at the base of the cloud when the cloud is having an updraft and has a reflectivity between 30dbz and 35dbz. This is the time the cloud is best suited for cloud seeding. It takes half-an-hour for the clouds to be efficient and it rains. The average speed of the cloud will be 15 metres per second,” Jalota said.

He said the civic body is in touch with Mekorot’s Mumbai base in Bandra Kurla Complex. “The modalities will be worked out on Thursday, whether or not to use IMD’s radar. We will also decide on whether Mekorot will provide us with just the aircraft or even manpower to operate the aircraft,” said Jalota.

If all goes well, Mumbaikars will also get an additional 455 million litres per day, as gates of Middle Vaitarna dam will be opened and water from the dam will be released by September.

Don’t make water supply out to be rocket science

The BMC should stop looking at outlandish ideas for maintaining supply to taps. Statistics indicate that Mumbai would not have to go through water cuts had the BMC simply turned its attention to plugging the leaks in the distribution chain and the widespread pilferage. The BMC has managed to keep the level of water cut down to 10 per cent this year but some long-term planning and attention to basic details could have done away with even this bit of pain.





Groundwater contaminated, Punjab battles uranium curse


Chandigarh, July 13, 2012

Groundwater contaminated, Punjab battles uranium curse


Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has confirmed the presence of uranium and other heavy metals in groundwater in the state, particularly the Malwa region, and serious efforts are afoot to control the damage. File photo
The Hindu Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has confirmed the presence of uranium and other heavy metals in groundwater in the state, particularly the Malwa region, and serious efforts are afoot to control the damage. File photo

The high incidence of cancer and other diseases in Punjab’s Malwa belt has been highlighted over the last decade. Now, union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has confirmed the presence of uranium and other heavy metals in groundwater in the state, particularly the Malwa region, and serious efforts are afoot to control the damage.

The worst affected is southwest Punjab’s fertile Malwa belt — the area south of the river Sutlej — comprising the districts of Mansa, Bathinda, Moga, Faridkot, Barnala, Sangrur and some parts of Ludhiana.

Ramesh, during a visit here last week, admitted that substantial quantities of uranium, arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals had been found in the tested samples of groundwater in Punjab.

“The level of uranium in the ground water is 50 percent over the WHO norms. The source of this is not yet known. Punjab is the only state to have uranium in its water,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Of the 2,462 samples of water collected from tube wells across Punjab, 1,140 samples had tested positive for the presence of uranium and arsenic.

The effect of all this can be seen in the growing number of patients in the Malwa belt with cancer and other diseases and children being born with abnormalities. In fact, a train that connects Bathinda with Bikaner in neighbouring Rajasthan is known as the ‘Cancer Express’ as it ferries a large number of cancer patients from Punjab to Bikaner for treatment at a cancer hospital.

The union government, which has promised to give Punjab Rs.525 crore to make its water uranium free, has already sanctioned a water testing laboratory at Mohali, 10 km from here.

Environmentalists blame the rampant use of pesticides, fertiliser and other chemicals — as Punjab took the lead in the Green Revolution and became the country’s No. 1 state in food grain production — for the contaminated groundwater.

According to Umendra Dutt, director of the Kheti Virasat Mission, an NGO that works for agriculture and environment causes, an immediate plan is needed to tackle the multiple environmental toxicity in Punjab’s water.

“The rampant use of pesticides and agro-chemicals to achieve the green revolution is responsible for this situation,” Mr. Dutt said.

Some other environmentalists blame the pollution and waste from thermal plants and explosives used in past wars for the contamination of the water.

The Punjab government has sought technical help from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to tackle the growing problem of uranium in groundwater.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has said the Punjab government would launch a war against uranium pollution in water, which was only specific to Punjab.

Scores of people in Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur and other districts have died or are suffering from cancer and other diseases owing to uranium contamination.

Badal said that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had already requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to allocate a special budget to tackle the problem of uranium as it has been done in the case of arsenic and fluoride contamination.

He said the BARC team was trying to locate the source of uranium contamination and the Punjab government was taking all possible measures to provide a reverse osmosis (RO) system for the supply of safe drinking water in the affected areas.


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