KA announces cloud seeding to deal with rain deficit

Karnataka will take up cloud seeding at the onset of monsoon this year and next year to supplement efforts to tackle drought, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) minister Krishna Byre Gowda announced on Wednesday.  

The government will spend an estimated Rs 88 crore for the cloud seeding project for 2019-20 and 2020-21. 

Cloud seeding involves spreading aerosol (silver iodide or sodium chloride) into the clouds to stimulate the precipitation process and form rains. 

“There are reports that rainfall may be deficit this year. As a precautionary measure, we’ve decided to go for cloud seeding for two years. The tender will be awarded in a week or ten days. By the end of June, cloud seeding will be launched,” Gowda told reporters. “This isn't the solution for drought, but it will help to some extent.”

The government has made early preparation for cloud seeding, Gowda said. “Earlier, it used to be August or September. By then, monsoon days would be mostly over. Now, it will be done right at the start of monsoon,” he said. 

Cloud seeding will be done from two centres - Hubballi and Bengaluru. The centres will be shifted to and fro based on availability of seedable clouds and deficit in rainfall, the minister said. 

In 2017, the State government launched the Varshadhaare cloud seeding project that was done between August 21 and November 10. In this period, two aircraft flew for 286.51 hours and burnt 1,302 flares into clouds in the Cauvery, Malaprabha and Tungabhadra river basins. This generated 2.51 tmc of additional water and rainfall was 27.9% above the natural rainfall, an evaluation found. 

Before Varshadhaare, cloud seeding was done last in 2003 under the S M Krishna regime. In July 2008, former RDPR minister H K Patil arranged cloud seeding as a private initiative in Gadag, Haveri and Dharwad districts, which he claimed resulted in rainfall. 

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