Amid rising concerns about air pollution in the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has made the decision to install dry mist fountains at 20 major junctions experiencing heavy traffic congestion. These junctions include Sancheti Junction, JM Road Junction, Yerawada Junction, Alka Chowk Junction, Shaniwar Wada Junction, and Swargate Junction.
The primary sources of air pollution in the city are vehicular emissions, dust from construction activities, and waste burning. PMC aims to combat this issue by installing dry mist fountains, which aid in settling airborne particles to the ground. To implement this initiative, PMC has issued a tender worth ₹2 crore.
However, civil society organisations have expressed opposition to the plan. Parisar, an environmental conservation organisation in Pune, has raised concerns regarding the installation of dry mist fountains. In a letter addressed to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Parisar has called for the establishment of guidelines before making decisions on measures to address air pollution.
Shweta Vernekar, Senior Programme Associate at Parisar, emphasised the need for data-driven solutions, stating, "With the AQI levels soaring in Pune, we can no longer experiment with gadgets on citizens. People are falling sick, and short-term, temporary solutions are not going to help. The city has to act on evidence and data-backed solutions, not give knee-jerk reactions."
Dr Sachin Ghude, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), explained the limitations of mist fountains in addressing air pollution. "While they can settle dust particles from sources like construction and demolition activities within a confined area, they are ineffective against non-water-soluble particles and gaseous pollutants. In dry and windy conditions like those in Pune, mist fountains do not offer a sustainable solution, as pollutants return to the atmosphere when the mist evaporates or is blown away," he said.
Ravindra Sinha, a member of the Pune Air Action Hub, questioned the justification for introducing more mist fountains when the efficacy of the previously installed 10 fountains had not been tested. He expressed concern about the potential waste of public funds, especially when the Pune air action plan mandated by the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) did not include mist fountains.