Winds of change: India breathe fresh air amid COVID -19

The air pollution levels have shown a significant decline worldwide since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

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The only good thing that came out of the nationwide lockdown is the salutary effect it has on the air quality in India’s metro cities. The air pollution levels have shown a significant decline worldwide too since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The nationwide “Janata curfew (people’s curfew)” resulted in the lowest average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) ever recorded in the January-March period in since 2017, according to an analysis released by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). Further to Janata Curfew, India's 1.3 billion people went under "total lockdown" from, 24th March for 21 days i.e. till 14th April, 2020 to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, as per PM’s advice. In a virtual and live address to the nation, posted on his social media channels, Modi said that the ban will be active on everyone in the country for 21 days.

So, the grinding this country of 1.3 billion people to a near halt has provided a temporary remedy to a pressing health issue - suffocating pollution levels. According to an official at Indian Meteorological Department, that the pollution levels have plummeted due to reduction in vehicular traffic, shutdown of industries due to lockdown amid coronavirus and western disturbance, which is causing rainfall in some parts of India.

The European Space Agency (ESA) released satellite images showing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels have plummeted drastically. The levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant emitted generally by motor vehicles, went down drastically during the lockdown period in parts of China, where the pandemic originated from.


Source:European Space Agency (ESA)

Levels of air pollutants and warming gases over some cities are showing significant drops. Levels in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, are now at a moderate 95 on the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI of the national capital, with a population of 26.7 million, stood at 67 and is also in the moderate category. The suffocating grey smog has finally subsided. Locals also stated that it is now easier to breathe.


Source: System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR-India)

In a conversation with CNN, Sunil S Dahiya of Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said, “Pollution is going down, but we can't let the suffering of so many human beings be the way to clean the air. We can only use the outbreak as a learning lesson."

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