Maharashtra Govt approves cloud seeding project for 2017 monsoon

The state government has scrapped its cloud seeding plan this monsoon owing to the satisfactory rainfall in last three weeks across the state, barring four districts. Although officials and experts favoured the rain-inducing technology in catchment areas, the political leadership opposed it. After the cabinet approval, the state government had shortlisted Khyati-Weather Modification for spray sorties for about 100 hours at the cost of Rs30 crore. Under this programme, weather scientists using aircrafts will spray chemicals (silver iodide) over clouds clouds hovering above Solapur district, a rain shadow region of Western Ghats in the state. This will be the first controlled experiment to quantify the extent to which clouds form water drops large enough to make rain. This programme, coordinated by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, will be the first controlled experiment to quantify the extent to which clouds form water drops large enough to make rain. In this experiment, scientists will fly two aircraft and spray silver iodide and dry ice on 100 clouds and compare them with 100 unseeded clouds. Ground radar will be used to track the clouds and verify which ones contributed rain.The firm had last year undertaken seeding for 113 hours with rainfall of 1,381mm by spending Rs 28 crore. Though the government had shortlisted the company in May, the above-normal rains prediction made the government put the plan on the backburner. With about 75% to 100% rains in 32 districts, the government has decided to scrap the proposal. The three bidders who have deposited Rs25 lakh each will be refunded soon.Experts and officials from the department were of the opinion that notwithstanding satisfactory rain, the cloud seeding was necessary. As per the latest figures collated by the state agriculture department, barring Solapur in western Maharashtra, and Beed, Latur and Osmanabad in Marathwada, rest of the districts have received the rainfall above 75% till date. Seeding is a form of weather modification to induce rains over dams or catchment areas. Sorties are flown over them to spray a water-salt solution. Usually rain falls within half an hour of seeding, experts say. However, the jury is still out to see if the technology can get additional rain.

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