The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) would rope in Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, to carry out cloud seeding operations in the areas where major water reservoirs of the city are situated.
BMC officials will hold a meeting through video conferencing with representatives of India Meteorological Department, and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and Mekorot officials on Thursday to draw an action plan in this regard. The move comes at a time when Mumbaikars are suffering from water cuts due to deficient rainfall.
Cloud seeding is the process of spreading either dry ice, or, more commonly, silver iodide aerosols, into the upper part of clouds to try to stimulate the precipitation process and form rain.
“This exercise is a part of BMC’s memorandum of understanding with Israel’s ministry of water and energy, signed in March 2011. Cloud seeding is one of the many things incorporated in the MoU,” Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, BMC, told Business Standard.
The Vaitarna dam, which supplies drinking water to the city, has water for only 151 days left, while the Bhatsa dam has water for 210 days, quite low compared to last year, Jalota said. He added details about funds required for the proposed cloud seeding would be known after Thursday’s meeting.
Orna Sagiv, consul-general of Israel in Mumbai, said Mekorot’s involvement would effectively help tackle the challenge of water scarcity faced by the people of Mumbai.
Gaurav Seth, director, AFII Corporate Advisors, Singapore, which represents Mekorot Development and Enterprises in India, said: “Mekorot, which is engaged in rain-enhancement activities for over 45 years, would use the cloud seeding technology.” He added: The duration and cost of the project vary with the stretch of areas where the cloud seeding has been proposed and also the type of seeding method we are going to use.”
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is likely to defer the cloud-seeding experiment, which was slated to be carried out from September 1, pending clearance from aviation regulator DGCA.
“The DGCA has sought reply on certain things like who will be responsible for the cloud seeding operations, how the civic body will go ahead with it ?..Hence the process may be delayed and the experiment might commence in the second week of September,” said R B Bambale, hydraulic engineer in BMC.
The exercise aimed at increasing water-level in catchment areas in the metropolis, following deficient rains, was earlier scheduled from September 1-28.
The civic body requires DGCA’s permission on the air space to be used by a plane before it goes ahead with the procedure. Also, the BMC is yet to get a green signal from the Maharashtra home department in this regard, he said.
However, if the rainfall improves in coming days, it will help in increasing water level in various dams, he added.
The official, however, said the cost of the project would escalate to Rs 20 crore from the previous Rs 12 crore, as the civic body will have to pay for using the runways.
The process will involve sprinkling of sodium chloride crystals from a plane on clouds to induce precipitation and subsequently, rain. It will be held over Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarna lakes.
Earlier this month, a presentation in this regard was made by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) to the group leaders of various parties. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) will also be aiding the civic body in the project along with an Israeli company.