Wednesday, Nov 19, 2003
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By P. Sunderarajan
The study, cleared recently by the high-power Council for Meteorological and Atmospheric Sciences, headed by the Science and Technology Secretary, V.S. Ramamurthy, would involve the deployment of a network of what is called sky scanner radiometers across the country.
The equipment, to be imported at a cost of about Rs. 5 lakhs each, would be strategically placed to get as correct a picture as possible. While the exact sites are yet to be decided, the scientists have identified the areas where they would be located: east and west coast, the north-east, Central India and the Thar Desert in Rajasthan.
While the scanners located on the coasts would provide data on the nature and quantum of the pollution that is getting transported from other regions, those in other locations would give a picture of the kind and load of pollution originating from the country, both because of industrial and other human activities and those due to natural processes such as sandstorms. While the scanners in the north-east would provide data on the pollution created because of the slash and burn practice adopted by the farmers in the region, the ones in Central India would provide information on the nature and quantum of pollution caused by other manmade activities in other parts of the country and those in the Thar Desert would assess the level of pollution whipped up by sandstorms.
The radiometers, which would operate on a wide range of frequencies, from 200 nanometres to 1,200 nanometres, to help identify the pollution particles of varying sizes, are expected to become operational by the middle of next year. Although a cogent picture of what is happening in the atmosphere is likely to be available within a year, the experiment is to be conducted over a long term.
Senior officials at the India Meteorological Department said the aim of the experiment was to ensure that India had its own set of data, particularly considering that global climate change was a highly sensitive issue, with a lot of economic implications. "Already, there is growing pressure on India from Europe to do something about the problem following apprehensions that due to it, Europe may get less rainfall.''
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