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Air pollution 2020 report: Big cities fare better, small towns toxic

The analysis on the cities of Indo-Gangetic Plains shows how clean air gains of the lockdown and monsoon periods have been lost with the reopening of the economy and the hostile winter weather.

Published: 15th January 2021 04:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th January 2021 09:00 AM   |  A+A-

Air Pollution, Smog

People play cricket as the sky is enveloped in smog on the outskirts of New Delhi. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  While several bigger cities like Delhi and Varanasi saw reduction in annual PM 2.5 levels, smaller towns and cities like Fatehabad or Moradabad have seen an increase, shows a new analysis. 

An analysis of winter air pollution (till January 11) by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in the cities of Indo-Gangetic Plains shows how clean air gains of the lockdown and monsoon periods have been lost with the reopening of the economy and the hostile winter weather. 

Annual average level of PM2.5 is not lower in many cities despite the lockdown.

The 2020 average PM2.5 level in many cities in the upper Gangetic plains has climbed up to breach the average concentration recorded in 2019.

Fatehabad in northern Haryana is the worst with a 35 per cent increase from 2019 level.

Higher PM2.5 levels is a winter trend when continuous emissions from local sources including vehicles, industry, construction, and pollution from biomass burning get trapped due to meteorological changes. 

“Even though the average level of PM2.5 for the summer and monsoon months in 2020 is considerably lower than the previous year’s due to the lockdown, the PM2.5 levels this winter have risen beyond the 2019 levels in almost all monitored cities in Punjab and Haryana,” said Avikal Somvanshi, programme manager in CSE’s Urban Lab team of the Sustainable Cities programme.

The number of days with PM2.5 concentration meeting the standard was considerably lower this winter — more ‘poor’ or ‘worse’ days.

There have been 33 days of standard air days this winter compared to 41 recorded last year in Amritsar.

Similarly, standard days have been lesser by 11 days in Ambala and four in Lucknow and Patna each.

In Lucknow, not a single day met the standard since the beginning of October this winter; there were 19 days of ‘severe’ or ‘worse’ air quality — up from five last winter. 



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