Due to the lockdowns implemented across the country amid the COVID-19 widespread, over 90 cities in India including the capital Delhi observed minimal air pollution in the past few days.
Although the improvement in air quality is certainly due to one of the biggest lockdowns implemented in the country where 130 crore n people have been asked to stay at home, the environmentalist urged the governments to take it as a wake-up call and do not keep on developing urban areas at the cost of the environment.
As per the data from the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the preventive measures implemented against COVID-19 outbreak have led to a drop in PM2.5 levels by 30 percent in Delhi and by 15 percent in Ahmedabad and Pune. And, levels of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), which can increase the risk of respiratory conditions, has also slumped. Pune observed nearly 43 percent slump in NOx levels. However, in Mumbai NOx dropped by 38 percent and by 50 percent in Ahmedabad.
According to Gufran Beig, a scientist at SAFAR, generally in March, pollution is in the “moderate” category while currently, it is in the “satisfactory” or “good” category. “Due to lockdowns that involved local factors like shutting down of industries, construction work and traffic have contributed to improving the air quality. Moreover, rain is also helping, but a major role has been played by the curbs on local emissions”, Beig added.
The data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) also show similar trends. Kanpur, one of the most polluted cities in the country has recorded air quality under the “satisfactory” category and Delhi in the “good” category. Besides that, 92 cities with CPCB monitoring centres have recorded minimal air pollution, with the air quality in the range of “good” to “satisfactory”.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 severe.