Dry spell for 'cloud seeding' project

Dry spell for 'cloud seeding' project

An affidavit signed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) director Professor Bhupendra Nath Goswami says: “The monsoon will end in September 2010 and  it has to be done within the period” and that the critical Phase-II of the research programme would be “adversely affected” because of the pending court cases which may lead to its scrapping.

The research project into cloud seeding -–– Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment (CAIPEEX) -–– funded by the Ministry of Earth Science was to be executed by the Pune-based IITM, a fully-funded government agency.
The project envisaged identifying techniques to produce artificial rain and assess its impact and benefits.

It is centred out of Sholapur in Maharashtra where a Doppler radar is supposed to monitor an aircraft spraying salt on targeted clouds and a second plane with instruments measuring the changes and validating the effect.

Accordingly, the project was to be conducted in the monsoon season since that is the time when sufficient clouds are available. In Phase-I of the programme, which was carried out in the 2009 monsoon season, was confined to cloud mapping.
Professor Venkateshwara Rao, Jawarharlal Nehru Technical University and Director Centre for Atmospheric Sciences and Weather Modification Technologies (AP), considered an authority in cloud seeding, said: “The onset of monsoon is the ideal time to take up any cloud seeding activity.

“We have two monsoons—  South-West which is a primary monsoon for the country and North-East covering TN and Kerala. Now, the South-West monsoon is retreating.”
Lacking experience

For Phase-II, IITM floated global tenders on December 2009 and only three companies bid for the project. According to documents available with Deccan Herald, two of the firms did not even have the minimum experience to participate in Phase-II.
While one company, which is run by Dr Gopal and Arun Karjol, sons of Karnataka’s Minor Irrigation, Kannada and Culture Minister Govind Karjol, and Prakash K Koliwad, whose father K B Koliwad,a former Congress MLA and a minister in S M Krishna’s Cabinet.
The name of the company is Krishi Consultants, based in Bangalore, and according to the terms of the contract it was supposed to have supplied to aircraft/radar for the project. The other company, Agni, another Bangalore-based company, was found not to have any experience in conducting cloud seeding research and its bid was rejected.

But documents in the possession of Deccan Herald show that Krishi Consultants was floated on December 23, 2009, where as the global tender was issued a day later.
When contacted, programme director Dr J R Kulkarni said: “We were caught in some technical and administrative problems, but in the next couple of weeks it is likely to take off.” However, sources disclosed that the research project will have to be grounded because not only are the monsoons over, but even the primary aeroplane (the seeding aircraft) is yet to be with IITM.

To add to IITM’s woes, Agni moved the Mumbai High Court claiming that the project was awarded to a one-day old company. Agni’s petition did not make Krishi Consultants a party to case and made the IITM the main respondent. Hence, the case was dismissed on technical grounds. The court case took up all the time that the IITM could could have used to advance its research project.
DH News Service

What is CAIPEX
* Cloud Aerosol Interaction and Precipitation Enhancement Experiment (CAIPEEX), a program expected to result in guidelines for various state governments undertaking cloud seeding projects.
* Two aeroplanes (Seeding and Research Aeroplanes) — One aeroplane is used to carry the seeding material and spread it in the cloud. While another plane which carries various instruments will check before and after effects of seeding. In addition, a ground based radar will read and record the entire process.
* Last year, seeding was not conducted. Only cloud samples were done (cloud
mapping).

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