Significant improvement in air quality was observed during the nationwide lockdown imposed in view of the coronavirus pandemic that restricted all sorts of activities, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said on Wednesday.
The department released the report during the virtual celebrations of the 46th Foundation Day of CPCB, stating that PM 2.5 reduced by 24 per cent during the pre-lockdown phase, and further reduced by almost 50 per cent during the lockdown phases, compared to levels observed last year, reported NDTV.
The report stated that such a significant improvement in air quality and management strategies come with considerable economic costs. "Irreversible emission reductions through sustainable process changes and long-term objectives is crucial for achieving good air quality levels."
Air quality data was studied in three stages- pre-lockdown (March 1-21), lockdown phase-I (March 25 – April 19) and lockdown phase-II (April 20 – May 3).
A drastic fall in pollution levels and an improvement in the Air Quality Index (AQI) were observed in parts of Delhi and towns of Faridabad, Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad. Fall in pollution was also observed in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Indore, Patna and Singrauli.
The report suggested that fall in air pollution may also be due to meteorological conditions, along with restrictions that were imposed by the government.
According to the report, across India, visit to public transport facilities dropped by 66 per cent (up to April 30, 2020) and by 77.7 per cent in Delhi from the baseline average.
The study further revealed that vehicular emissions, domestic/local coal combustion, waste incineration and urban organic aerosols reduced sharply from the pre-lockdown phase into lockdown phase-I, but were found to rise back with increasing relaxations in the lockdown.
The report said that lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic can be utilised to target source-specific actions leading to maximum improvement in ambient air quality. "Further, socio-economic development and industrialization also need to be in tandem with the carrying capacity of a city," it said.
The report was released by Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo, who praised the CPCB for its contribution in checking and spreading awareness about air pollution.