India breathes easy in lockdown: 90 cities record dip in air pollution

With a national lockdown in place, more than 90 cities, including Delhi, have recorded minimal air pollution in the past few days.

Welcoming the reduction in pollution, environmentalists urged the government to treat it as a “wake-up call” and to put an end to its “obsession” with “development” at the expense of the environment.

India is currently under the biggest lockout with around 130 crore of people asked to stay home due to the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed 19 people and infected more than 900 people in the country.

The government has urged people to avoid unnecessary travel, significantly reducing traffic flows across the country.

According to the Center’s Air Quality Management and Weather Forecast and Research System (SAFAR), the impact of the measures taken due to the coronavirus epidemic has resulted in a 30% drop in PM2.5 (fine particulate pollutants) in Delhi and 15% in Ahmedabad and Pune.

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The level of nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, which can increase the risk of respiratory problems, has also decreased. NOx pollution is mainly due to heavy vehicle traffic. NOx pollution in Pune decreased by 43%, in Mumbai by 38% and in Ahmedabad by 50%.

English Conversation About Pollution

Gufran Beig, a SAFAR scientist, generally said in March that pollution is in the “moderate” category (air quality index: 100-200) while it is currently “satisfactory” (AQI 50- 100) or “good”. “(AQI 0-50) category.

“This is the impact of the lockout. Local factors like shutdown of industries and construction and traffic have helped improve air quality. Rain also helps, but restrictions on local emissions play a role important, “he said.

In the “good” category, pollution is considered to be the lowest and the air is considered to be the healthiest to breathe.

According to data from the Central Pollution Control Commission (CPCB), the air quality in the national capital is currently in the “good” category. In Kanpur, which has high pollution levels, it is in the “satisfactory” category. In addition, 92 other cities with CPCB monitoring centers recorded minimal air pollution, with air quality ranging from “good” to “satisfactory”.

According to the CPCB data, 39 cities recorded “good” air quality and 51 cities recorded satisfactory “quality”.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 severe.

Environmentalists believe that reducing pollution levels should serve as a wake-up call to the government.

Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder of the NGO Care for Air, said that the low AQI and the blue sky undoubtedly prove that much of the polluted air is “anthropomorphic, that is to say of human origin “.

“Obviously, slowing the economy down to such a degree is not the ideal way to reduce air pollution, but at least it proves that it can be done. We can achieve the same result by doing it consciously , using technology and low emissions. alternatives, “she said.

Lavakare stressed the need to realize that air pollution weakens the lungs, so countries like India with higher pollution and lower nutrition levels will be more affected by COVID-19, and morbidity and deaths are likely to be higher.

Ravina Kohli, environmentalist and member of the #MyRightToBreathe campaign, said it was a “huge red flag” for governments obsessed with development at the expense of the environment.

“We people are the problem. Our communication on solutions now also includes how to reduce pollution on a personal level by being able to understand our behavior and its consequences on our environment.

“For the first time, I believe our current generation will discover the critical importance and the need to focus on public health and the quality of the air we breathe,” she said.

Jai Dhar Gupta, environmentalist and founder of Nirvana Being, which sells masks and purifiers to fight pollution, said humans need to determine whether they want to return to the normal that existed before or find a more sustainable normal.

“It has been a fantastic awakening and I think we have had a reality check and we need to find a new standard. It is an opportunity, a chance to find a new sustainable life,” he said.


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