The Karnataka government’s trial cloud seeding exercise to mitigate drought conditions in the state has seen moderate success. The Rs 91 crore-worth cloud seeding exercise will start on Monday and go on for the next three months, as the state is witnessing deficit rainfall and has seen three consecutive years of drought. There is a 19% deficit in rainfall for the state this year, with 50% of the taluks witnessing deficient rainfall.
Cloud seeding is a weather modification experiment to induce rainfall from rain-bearing clouds using chemicals. However, its success rate has remained debatable, given the astronomical costs involved. For Karnataka, flares of sodium chloride and potassium chloride will be used to trigger hygroscopic cloud seeding.
Previously, the state government carried out cloud seeding in 2017, which saw considerable success. Following that, experts from the Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, National Aerospace Laboratories and the Indian Meteorology Department suggested that the Karnataka government carry out this exercise every year.
The first such trial run took place with two aircraft taking off from the HAL Airport in Bengaluru and flew over to Kanakpura and Chamarajanagar areas.
“Our trial run was done on Thursday in areas of Ramanagara, Kolar and we will continue this every day. We will do cloud seeding all over south Karnataka, to begin with, as most of the deficiency is in interior south Karnataka. Another factor to keep in mind is cloud density. Both of these factors will lead to our decision. So next we will look at Chitradurga and Tumakuru as they are the worst affected,” said LK Atheeq, the Principal Secretary of Rural Development & Panchayat Raj.
“So far we have been moderately successful in the trial run,” he added.
According to data released by the Karnataka State Disaster Monitoring Centre, the majority of the areas under the cloud seeding zone received rainfall in both areas where trials were conducted.