With the tepid response to its cloud seeding proposals, the Maharashtra government is mulling over using an entirely new technology to create artificial rain, in the face of predications of a deficient monsoon.
Despite two extensions, the government has received only two bids from companies to conduct cloud seeding demonstrations. Wary of the possibility of having to drop the plan altogether, the government is now looking at an experiment with rockets that has never been tried in the Indian sub-continent before.
The plan involves firing rockets containing silver iodide particles, or even dry ice, into the sky, where they explode. The silver iodide particles help in turning the moisture in the clouds into rain.
A private company has offered to carry out a pilot project at its own cost, an offer that the state is mulling over. According to an official in the relief and rehabilitation department, the department will check the efficacy of the technology through the pilot and then take a call on it.
According to an official involved in the process, the rocket-propelled cloud seeding will be tested through a series of rockets. “These rockets are launched into the clouds and on combustion, release silver iodide into the flames. This silver iodide then helps in precipitation, resulting in rainfall,” the official said.
Another method the state is looking at is the burning of silver iodide on the ground, for the flames to then cause precipitation in the clouds. “We have got an offer from another technology company to try this method. We are considering their proposal to conduct pilot studies at their own cost,” said the official.
This hunting for technologies and conducting pilot studies is a result of the poor response the government got to the request for proposal (RFP) that it floated, inviting companies to conduct cloud seeding through an aircraft. Originally floated on April 25, the RFP got two bids from interested companies, forcing the State to give it an extension on May 18 for another 15 days after which, the lack of response saw the State giving it another 10-day extension on June 2.
While the government will now, finally, open the two bids on June 12, it remains wary of the possibility of the two firms not fitting its criteria.