Mumbai's air quality improves as nitrogen oxide levels dip after lockdown, finds study


With the country under lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus, air pollution levels have improved and social media is abuzz with pictures of clear skies and distant views. Reiterating the effect is a recent study of satellite images and energy consumption by Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

The data analysed by CREA shows that carbon emission hotspots over major cities as well as industrial and coal combustion-dominated areas have reduced significantly post March 24, when the lockdown began. The data also shows a 18% reduction in the consumption of petroleum products in March 2020 as compared to the corresponding period last year.

"The drastic reduction in nitrogen oxide levels over Mumbai after the lockdown shows that it is possible to achieve breathable air and clean skies. It is not necessary to take such drastic measures like shutting down the city, but efficient emission control at including vehicles, industries, petrochemical refineries and power plants—can lead us to clean air as well," said Sunil Dahiya, Analyst, CREA.

The study suggests implementation of long-term changes to ensure that the levels don't bounce back after the lockdown ends. Among the recommendations made by the research organisation are shifting from the current highly fossil fuel dependent economy to clean energy based systems, making heavy investments in renewable energy and other clean energy solutions, moving towards a more intensive public transportation systems and making cities conducive to movement of people rather than just vehicles, and strengthening emission standards for polluting industries and enforcing full implementation with time-bound targets.

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