Maharashtra to try cloud seeding

Maharashtra to try cloud seeding

Maharashtra government is getting ready with a back-up plan for cloud seeding, albeit on an experimental basis, to bring relief at drought-hit areas in the event of monsoon failure

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State Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation department has published a bidding document for cloud seeding operations, with the idea coming to focus after the weather department predicting delayed and deficient monsoon this season.

At the weekly cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis where the issue came up for discussion, Rs 10 crore has been set aside for the operations.

“We have plans to undertake cloud seeding in Vidarbha, Marathwada and North Maharashtra,” revenue minister Eknath Khadse told reporters in Mantralaya, adding that it would be a pilot project.

Discussions around cloud seeding has been going on for nearly a decade as the state experienced long spells of drought and inadequate rainfall. However, their viability has come under question after operations by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) failed to yield encouraging results.

The MCGM has in the past held discussions with Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) for cloud seeding. Experts said MCGM, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and other agencies must coordinate properly and have an advanced plan for cloud seeding operations to succeed.

The MCGM tried cloud seeding in 1992 and just a few years ago over Vaitarna and Tansa lakes that supply water to Mumbai.

Cloud seeding is done when coal is burnt in a furnace at 1350 degree Celsius and silver iodide in powder form is strewn. The particles become lighter than air after fusing and reach the cloud concentrations in 10 or 12 minutes.

The particles crystallise at -5 degree and attract water in the clouds. As the wait increases, the clouds release rain, experts said.  However, the process has to meet certain natural conditions to succeed. For instance, the clouds have to be in the altitude of 8,000 or 10,000 metres.

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