Smog Tower in Delhi: Working, Effect, Concerns and Way Forward

smog tower in delhi

The Government of Delhi has ordered the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to restart the smog tower located in Connaught Place at full capacity. The decision comes after the Supreme Court issued directions in this matter.

What is Smog Tower?

Smog Towers, as the name signifies, are pollution-reducing or air-purifying structures. Large fans take polluted air inside them, pass it through a series of filters, and release clean air.

What is the Working of Smog Tower?

The smog tower works in either of the two ways as explained below:

‘Updraft Air Cleaning System’

  • In this type of system, the air is drawn in from the ground level and is forced upward by convection and heating. At the top of the tower, filtered air is released.

‘Downdraft Air Cleaning System’

  • The top of the smog tower sucks in the polluted air, sends it down to the filters, and releases clean air from the lower section of the tower.

About Delhi Smog Tower

  • The Smog Tower in Delhi is the country’s first ‘smog tower’. It was inaugurated by the Delhi CM after the Honourable Supreme Court of India directed their installation in Delhi to give relief to the people inhaling toxic air.
  • The 24-meter-tall smog tower in Delhi can filter 1,000 cubic meters of air each second within a one-kilometer radius. 
  • The tower is equipped with 40 fans and 5000 filters that draw in contaminated air and release cleansed air. 
  • There is another smog tower in Anand Vihar, another pollution hotspot in Delhi.

What is the Effect of the Smog Tower in Delhi?

The smog tower located in Delhi can purify the air in a one-km radius at a rate of around 1,000 cubic meters per second. The differential readings cast doubts on the effectiveness of the technology: 

  • Data given by Delhi Minister: According to the NCT of Delhi minister, the giant air purifier can cut down air pollution by 70 to 80 percent within a radius of 50 meters and by 15 to 20 percent beyond 300 meters.
  • DPCC Study: According to the Delhi Pollution Control Commission (DPCC) the reduction in Particulate Matter (PM) was minuscule running from 12 to 13 percent at a distance of 100 meters from the structure.

Benefits of a Smog Tower

  • Pollution Reduction: The primary benefit of Smog Tower is the reduction of airborne Particulate Matter (PM). The contaminated and polluted air is taken into the structure, passed through a series of filters, and clean air is released back into the atmosphere.
  • Quick Fix Solution: They can be fitted in a small space and can work as a quick fix solution in air pollution hotspots.
  • Health Benefits: The installation of the smog tower reduces pollution-induced diseases like respiratory infections, heart disease, lung cancer, etc. in the area. 

What are the Concerns related to the Smog Tower?

Experts have raised concerns related to the smog towers. They are as follows:

  • Expensive Installation and Maintenance: They are expensive, temporary solutions for which there is little scientific support for their long-term advantages.
    • The 24-meter-tall Smog tower in Delhi was built at a cost of  ₹20 crore and aimed to purify air within a 1 km radius around the structure.
  • Efficacy of the System: According to Delhi Pollution Control Board and IIT Bombay the smog towers are not efficient enough to curb the pollution menace in Delhi. The reduction can be noticed in the incoming and outgoing air but such difference in larger regions is not noticed by various experts.
    • A study by DPCC noted that the reduction in Particulate Matter (PM) was minuscule running from 12 to 13 percent at a distance of 100 meters from the structure.
  • Lack of Scientific Evidence to Back the Utility of the System: The concept seems to curb air pollution by technically making use of filters but there is no scientific backing to its working. 

Way Forward 

  • Holistic Study: Amid the lack of scientific evidence about the efficacy of smog towers, it is essential to conduct a holistic study with different technologies before the expansion of these towers.
  • Reduction of Pollution at the Source: There is a need to reduce air pollution at the source and not just work on the remedial measures.
    • Focus on the adoption of electrical vehicles.
    • Strict measures to ban stubble burning in neighboring states.
  • Integrated Approach: Delhi is not alone in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Action must be taken to address the pollution issue from Punjab to Bihar. 
  • Other Measures: 
    • Controlling construction waste.
    • Implementing regulations on thermal power plants, and focussing on Renewable energy to phase out coal-based thermal power plants.
    • Lowering industrial emissions directly from the source.
Air Pollution 
According to WHO, air pollution means contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical, or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. 

Air Pollution Statistics
As per WHO, 14 Indian cities are among the world’s 20 most polluted cities.

Consequences of Air Pollution
Health effects: Respiratory and pulmonary infections, heart disease, lung cancer, etc.
Agricultural Impact: The accumulation of black carbon and ground-level ozone reduces crop yields by almost 50%.
– Economic effects: As per the World Bank, air pollution costs the world economy $5 trillion per year as a result of loss of productivity and degraded quality of life.
Acid Rain

Initiatives Taken
The National Clean Air Programme aims to build and strengthen the institutional capacity to monitor air quality across India.
– National Air Quality Monitoring Program has been launched under which air quality monitoring stations are being set up across the country.
Efforts to reduce emissions:
-> Ujjawala Scheme to cut household emissions resulting from the burning of biomass.
-> Adoption of BS-VI norm to cut vehicular emissions etc.
Promotion of Renewable Energy
-> Setting up of National Clean Energy Fund
-> Launch of International Solar Alliance
Efforts to Increase Green Cover
-> National Mission on Green India
-> Urban Forestry Schemes

Way Ahead
– Improve public transportation to reduce the number of private vehicles.
– Encourage non-motorized transport like walking, cycling, etc.
– Center should coordinate among states to tackle issues affecting multiple states. e.g. stubble burning.
– Efficient and speedy implementation of NAPCC.
– Continued push for green energy


India must adopt a “green vision” as part of its development agenda. The time has come to add “swachh paani” and “swachh hawa” to the list of basic requirements – “roti-kapada-makaan”.

Source: Hindustan Times


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