Bengaluru witnessed a spike of 90% in NO2 pollution, Delhi observed the most dramatic increase among all the eight Indian cities studied

No2 column amount in April 2020 and  2021 in the Bengaluru area. The circle has a 10 km radius around the city centre
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No2 column amount in April 2020 and 2021 in the Bengaluru area. The circle has a 10 km radius around the city centre

Highlights

A new report from Greenpeace India reveals that a year after initial nationwide lockdowns due to Covid-19, NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) pollution has increased in all eight most populous state capitals studied.

Bengaluru: A new report from Greenpeace India reveals that a year after initial nationwide lockdowns due to Covid-19, NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) pollution has increased in all eight most populous state capitals studied. Among Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Lucknow, the National capital witnessed a surge between April 2020 and April 2021.

According to satellite observations, NO2 pollution in Bengaluru increased by 90% between April 2020 and April 2021. Results of the deweathering analysis indicate that meteorology had only a little contribution to this change. Although the deweathering model tended to overestimate absolute NO2 amounts in Bengaluru, model estimates correlated well with observed data providing confidence in this result.

The weather had only little contribution to this change. Whereas, in Delhi, NO2 was higher by 125%, in Mumbai, 52% higher, Hyderabad by 69%, Chennai by 94%, Kolkata by 11%, Jaipur by 47% and Lucknow by 32% in April 2021 than in the same month of the previous year.

Exposure to NO2 can severely impact people's health at all ages, including the respiratory and circulatory systems and the brain, leading to increases in hospital admissions and mortality.

As the pandemic continues to have a severe impact in India and cases are spiking in other countries, there is growing evidence that polluted cities suffer disproportionately more coronavirus cases. The health impact of fossil-fuel related air pollution is severe and has been reflected time and again in several reports. Yet there has been little change to our reliance on fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas, increased economic activity is still largely coupled to toxic air pollution in most of the cities.

"The air quality levels in these cities are alarming. The cities and the people are already paying a huge price for our reliance on burning fossil fuels, this business as usual cannot continue. People saw clean skies and breathed fresh air during the nationwide lockdown though it was an unintended consequence of the pandemic. The disruption caused by the pandemic is a case to transition to cleaner, equitable and sustainable decentralised energy sources such as rooftop solar and clean and sustainable mobility must be central to recovery efforts across cities. The recovery from the pandemic must not come at the expense of a return to previous levels of air pollution," said Avinash Chanchal, Senior Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

"Motor vehicles and industries based on fossil fuel consumption are the major drivers of NO2 pollution in Indian cities. The governments, local administration and city planners must initiate the transition from privately owned vehicles to an efficient, clean and safe public transport system that is run on clean energy that of course, must provide Covid-19 related safety measures," added Chanchal.


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