Context: As per statistics on improved air quality ,the Lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 has reduced vehicular traffic across the country, leading to a drop in PM2.5, NOx levels.
Factors leading improvement in air quality
- India is currently under the biggest nationwide lockdown for breaking the chain of COVID-19 outbreak.
- The indian government has also urged people to avoid unnecessary travel and this has significantly reduced the traffic movement across the country.
- Local factors:Shutting down of various industries and construction activities have also contributed in improving the air quality.
- Weather patterns: Recent rain is also helping, but the curbs on local emissions are playing a significant role.
Statistics on improved air quality
- SAFAR - India: While generally in March, pollution is in the “moderate” category in contrast to this currently,which is in “satisfactory” or “good” category
- PM2.5 pollution:A drop in PM2.5 particulate pollutant by 30% in Delhi and by 15% in Ahmedabad and Pune, respectively has been seen.
- NOx pollution:In Pune, NOx pollution has reduced by 43%, in Mumbai, by 38% and in Ahmedabad, by 50%.
- CPCB data:
- Air quality in Delhi is presently in the “good” category.
- Kanpur,which is infamous for high pollution levels, is in the “satisfactory” category.
- Moreover, 92 other cities with CPCB monitoring centres have recently recorded minimal air pollution, with the air quality in the range of “good” to “satisfactory”.
- Nearly 39 cities have recorded “good” air quality and 51 cities have recorded “satisfactory” air quality in the recent few days.
Significance of reduced air pollution levels
- For future policy directives:This will act as a “huge wake-up call” for governments obsessed with development at the cost of the environment.
- For the citizens:This is the first time our present generation will discover on a large scale the critical importance and need for a focus on public health and the quality of air we breathe.
- Realisation of heavy anthropomorphic impact on air quality:AQI and the blue skies proved beyond doubt that a lot of the polluted air was the creation of “anthropomorphic” activities.
System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR)
- It is a Research based initiative of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) integrating Air Quality with Health Advisories and Food Security.
- It comprises dedicated Air Quality Information Service for Indian Metropolitan Cities to make India self sufficient
- It provides frontier research based Scientific accredited robust Air Quality Forecasting systems.
The system is indigenously developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and is operationalized by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Pollutants monitored: PM1, PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, CO, NOx (NO, NO2), SO2, BC, Methane (CH4), Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), VOC’s, Benzene, Mercury
Monitored Meteorological Parameters: UV Radiation, Rainfall, Temperature, Humidity, Wind speed, Wind direction, solar radiation
Air Quality Index(AQI)
- Air Quality Index is a tool for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms, which are easy to understand.
- It transforms complex air quality data of various pollutants into a single number (index value), nomenclature and colour.
- It is describe as ‘One Number- One Colour-One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity
- Wake up call:This can be considered as a wake-up call and reality check to figure out a new normal. This is an opportunity, a chance to find a new sustainable life.
- Sustainable normal:Humans need to figure out if they wish to go back to the normal that was there before or find a more sustainable normal.