Launched amid fanfare, aerial spraying of disinfectants in Bengaluru, now on hold
Confirming that the pilot had been called off, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike chief commissioner Gaurav Gupta said that several environmental and health concerns could arise.
The pilot project of aerial spraying of disinfectants, to be taken up in two different parts of the city on Monday, was launched amidst much fanfare. However, the project has now been put on hold after environmental and health concerns were raised.
On Saturday, Minister for Revenue R. Ashok announced the aerial spraying project by Aerialworks Aero LLP as a means to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Over three days, the aerial spraying of organic disinfectant was to be taken up in Shivajinagar and K.R. Market areas that are thickly populated and congested. After the launch, he said the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board would study the efficacy of the initiative. He also said that the government was not paying for the project, which if successful, would be extended to other parts of the city.
Confirming that the pilot had been called off, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) chief commissioner Gaurav Gupta told The Hindu that several environmental and health concerns could arise. “We need to thoroughly study the negative ramifications of such spraying before going ahead with the project. The company approached us seeking permission for an experimental flight, which was allowed. However, after consultations with various stakeholders, a decision was taken to put the project on hold until all the public health and environmental issues are studied,” he said.
He also said that while the civic body had sprayed disinfectants using jetting machines and sprayers in the past, it had been proven that the novel coronavirus spreads more through contact. This is why the State government and BBMP have both been urging citizens to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour of wearing masks, maintaining social-distance and washing/sanitising hands frequently.
Capt. Murali Ramakrishna, chief pilot, Aerialworks Aero LLP, dismissed many of the allegations levelled against the pilot. He said the solutions – Airlens Minus Corona and Sugaradhana Organic Antomicrobial concentrate – used to spray were safe and had been certified as being so by ICMR and AYUSH.
“The Airlens Minus Corona is a chemical-free, human safe, highly effective sanitisation system that uses just tap water and electricity to generate sanitisation solution that can be used in public spaces, offices, hospitals, homes etc. Developed by PerSapien Innovations, a team of scientists and engineers from Stanford University, IITs and AIIMS, the technology is tested and verified by ICMR. It is a novel innovation that is safer, better and effective against viruses, bacteria & other pathogens. Sugaradhana Organic Antimicrobial concentrate is developed with the power of Ayurveda. Proven effective against bacteria, fungus and viruses in lab and on field. It is the only disinfectant that’s 100% skin safe with no side effects. It will reduce the contamination and spread in the air itself. Already tested to arrest COVID-19 spread in sprayed areas,” the press release from Aerialworks Aero LLP.
Capt. Ramakrishna also rubbished allegations of flying without DGCA permission. He said during the launch, the aircraft didn’t leave the airport and added that the flight would be flying only at a height of 1,000 ft, as permitted by DGCA.