The coronavirus lockdown has brought many hardships for the economy as millions of people have been deprived of employment and the market has received a major blow, however as major industries and factories stay shut and people are refraining from the use of vehicles- the pollution levels in many of our cities has reduced drastically.
The pollution levels in India’s five most polluted cities, which are also part of the ten most globally polluted cities has come down drastically.
It is interesting to know that the pollution levels in these top five cities has come down by unto 50% due to the lockdown imposed against the coronavirus outbreak. This has been found through a new study conducted by well known environmental organisation Greenpeace India.
The study said that these five most polluted cities namely Ghaziabad, Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon have witnessed about 50% reduction in their PM 2.5 concentration since March 24 when the nationwide lockdown had been first announced.
It is to be noted that particulate matters PM 2.5 is one of the most important reasons for posing a heath risk and bringing about the chances for a cardiovascular disease or even expose one to the chances of getting respiratory diseases or even lung cancer.
The analysis also said that the strict implementation and inclusion of all non-attainment cities under the National Clean Air Program(NCAP)is crucial in order to address the long term issues associated with air pollution.
The Greenpeace India report has also made an analysis of the Central Pollution Control Board data and said that the PM 2.5 concentration level was down by 57.64 percent in the national capital, by 66.75 percent in the Ghaziabad region and 56.04 percent in Gurgaon among a host of other polluted cities.
The organisation also said that it is time we look at the outbreak of COVID-19 as an opportunity to understand the lesson that nature is trying to teach us all, it is important for mankind to not forget the lessons that we have been taught during this phase.
The country needs a coordinated and consistent action plan to address the major sources of pollution that exist throughout the year to ensure a healthy planet.
The report also suggested that once the outbreak of the coronavirus is over, it is time for the government to focus on a sustainability plan and look at development from the perspective of the environment, this alone will allow the government to safeguard public health in India.
While it is true that we are experiencing a drastic reduction in pollution levels due to economic activities being stalled, there is a need to work towards an expanded crisis.
The reduction in air pollution is temporary. It is worth noting that despite the lockdown, the most polluted cities are still not meeting the standards set by the WHO.
It was only recently that the Central Pollution Control Board has released a report about the implications of the ‘Janata Curfew’ on the air quality in which it had found a significant reduction in number of on-road vehicles, resulted in unto 51% reduction in nitrogen oxide levels and 32% reduction in carbon dioxide levels during the period of the lockdown. But even while we are in lockdown, we are unable to meet the guidelines set by the WHO for permissible air quality. There is therefore an urgent need to think of a more sustained and environmentally conducive economic strategy in the long run, that allows us to grow but in tune with the natural environment.