CHANDIGARH: The air quality index in Punjab and Chandigarh has improved for the first time in past 10 years with the reading of the state as low as 34. The Union Territory also had the cleanest air among 101 towns and cities across the country as the AQI level there was only 17.
Due to lack of vehicular movement and increasing air quality, wild animals have started venturing out from their habitats. On Monday, a leopard was caught after it was seen roaming in Chandigarh. Even deer and peacocks were also seen ouside the forests. Meanwhile, Chandigarh witnessed an increase in the chirping of birds.
Karunesh Garg, Member Secretary of Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) said, "The air quality index of whole of the state is in 'good' category. This has happened for the first time in the past 10 years. This sort of quality index are generally seen for a day or two in the months of August or September."
"As hardly any vehicle plying on roads, industrial and construction activities coming to a halt and no more fossil fuel burning due to the lockdown, air quality of all the major towns and cities of the state has improved," he added.
The AQI of different cities of the state as recorded by PPCB is: Amritsar: 63, Ludhiana: 27, Mandi Gobindgarh: 28, Patiala: 25, Jalandhar: 32, Khanna: 29. While last year on March 29 the overall state level 134 and the level of Amritsar: 139, Ludhiana: 67, Mandi Gobindgarh: 183,
Patiala: 158, Jalandhar: 163 and Khanna: 93.
As per the data on the `Sameer’ app of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) the AQI level of Chandigarh was 17.
Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee member secretary TC Nautiyal said this was probably for the first time that the city has recorded the AQI level so low.
Sources said that around 8 AM on on Monday morning, a leopard was spotted roaming around in Sector 5 of Chandigarh. Soon, the police and wildlife department were alerted. The Police Control Room (PRC) vehicles made the rounds in the sector and alerted the people using the public address system. The animal was capture by afternoon.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (Chandigarh), Abdul Qayum said, "we had to use tranquiliser to capture the animal. We are now trying to map the route of the animal to figure out from where it came from."
Two days ago, a sambar deer was seen seen at a zebra crossing on an empty road that divides Sector 9 and Sector 10 in the city.
"For last two days, peacocks have been roaming in the back lawns of my official residence. Also bird chirping has increased due to zero noise pollution," Punjab Chief Wild Life Warden Kukdeep Kumar, who lived in Sector 16 of the city, said.
"We have made arrangements for supply of chicken to 25 lions, tigers and leopards housed at the Chattbir Zoo near Chandigarh. They are being fed buffalo meat as of now. But there is shortage of supply. Since these animals eat around 200 kg of meat everyday, they will be given chicken which is easily available," said Kumar.