Smog Tower

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February 10, 2020 - 2:08am

Critical Commentary

A smog tower installed in Xi'an (China) which purportedly cleans 75 million cubic metre of air per day gives hope for technocratic interventions in Delhi too. "On the lines of China, Delhi might get anti-smog tower", reads a news article from The Times of India in November 2019, promising an infrastructure of purification that should work in Delhi because it works in Xi'an. On January 3, 2020, Delhi got its first smog tower in the busy market neighborhood of Lajpat Nagar. It is painted in the Indian tricolor of saffron, white and green, inaugurated by cricketer turned politician Gautam Gambhir who represents the political party BJP in the constituency of East Delhi. BJP is the political party that currently forms the central government of India, galvanizing people on communal polarisation and ethnocentric nationalism. Even though scientists have questioned if the smog tower really works, the vertical purifying machine built on top of a sewer drain would undoubtedly find itself represented in the next electoral cycle's  manifestos, an example of something concrete that has been done to intervene in a frustrating problem. 

As the contrast shows, an imagined technoscientific infrastructure has come home, and though it would produce a local purified bubble, it is meant to provoke affective ties to toxic nationalism. It does not matter if it works or not--I will not be surprised if the structure falls into disrepair. But it will have created a public, however momentarily, that would look at the crumbling infrastructure and see not failure but glory. 

Source

On the left, screenshot from a Times of India newspaper article. On the right, screenshot from an online blogpost

Cite as

Anonymous, "Smog Tower ", contributed by Prerna Srigyan, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 10 February 2020, accessed 23 October 2021.