Road during lockdown
A view of Mumbai-Pune road during lockdown. Image credit - Twitter @satheeshk1960

Following the imposition of lockdown across the country, more than 90 cities in India have recorded minimal air pollution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 24 midnight as a preventive measure to contain the spread of COVID19.

Environmentalists, as per a report, while welcoming the reduction of pollution, have urged the government to consider the situation as a “wake-up call” and stop its “obsession with “development” at the cost of the environment.

Along with other parts of the world, the number of COVID19 positive cases is on the rise.

On Sunday, a total of 678,910 positive cases were registered globally with 31,771 deaths. In India, a total of 25 people have died of COVID19 so far while 1,030 positive cases have been registered across the country.

Due to the unprecedented crisis, the government has urged people to avoid unnecessary travelling which has reduced traffic movement significantly across the country.

As per the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID19 has resulted in a drop in PM2.5 (fine particulate pollutant) by 30 per cent in Delhi and by 15 per cent in Ahmedabad and Pune, says a media report.

The level of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) pollution, which can increase respiratory conditions risk, has also reportedly reduced.

NOx pollution is caused mainly due to high motor vehicle traffic.

While NOx pollution has reduced by 43 pc in the city of Pune, it has reduced by 38 pc in the metro city of Mumbai.

NOx pollution has reduced by 50 per cent in Ahmedabad, said the report.

The report quoted Gufran Beig, a scientist at SAFAR, as saying that in the month of March pollution remains in the “moderate” category (Air Quality Index range: 100-200), but currently, due to the lockdown, it is in the “satisfactory” (AQI 50-100) or “good” (AQI 0-50) category.

The report quoted Beig as saying: “It is the lockdown impact. Local factors like shutting down of industries and construction and traffic have contributed to improving the air quality.”

He also said: “Rain is also helping, but the curbs on local emissions are playing a significant role.”

As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, the air quality in Delhi is currently in the “good” category.

The air quality in Kanpur, which generally records high pollution levels, is in the “satisfactory” category, the report said.

It has also been reported that 92 other cities with CPCB monitoring centres have recorded minimal air pollution, with the air quality in the range of “good” to “satisfactory”.

As per the CPCB data, a total of 39 cities have recorded “good” air quality and 51 cities have recorded “satisfactory” air quality in the last few days.

Welcoming the air pollution status across the country, Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder, Care for Air NGO, said the low AQI and the blue skies proved beyond doubt that a lot of the polluted air was “anthropomorphic, that is, man-made”.

Environmentalist Ravina Kohli, who is a part of the #MyRightToBreathe campaign, said it was a “huge wake-up call” for the governments which are “obsessed with development at the cost of the environment”.

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