Officials in Delhi have unveiled a radical solution to tackle the increasingly noxious smog hanging over the city: a giant public air freshener that scrubs the atmosphere clean.
The seven-tonne Systemlife Citta costs about 25 million rupees (£357,000). It sucks in 10,000 cubic metres of dirty air an hour, subjects it to a filtering process, and then emits clean air.
Delhi officials say that more of the machines will be bought if the current one, installed at one of Delhi’s busiest traffic junctions as part of a pilot project, proves a success. “We will evaluate its efficacy after three months,” P.K. Sharma, health chief of the New Delhi Municipal Council, told The Times. “If it works, we will buy more.”
Delhi is the second dirtiest city in the world in terms of the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere, according to the World Bank.
A brown haze often lingers over the Indian capital — a smudgy cloud linked by analysts to increasing rates of asthma.
Only in Cairo is the air grimier. Another Indian city, Calcutta, is in third place.
Globally, air pollution claims about two million lives a year, according to the World Health Organisation.
Athletes due to compete in Delhi in the Commonwealth games, which will begin in October, are being advised to arrive in the city at the last possible moment, to minimise the risk to their respiratory systems.
Those who live there are at risk of breathing progressively dirtier air as India becomes more affluent. By 2030 the number of vehicles on the country’s already congested roads is expected to rise sevenfold to about 380 million vehicles.
In the same period greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase fourfold, to 6.5 billion tonnes a year, according to McKinsey, the business consultants. …