In the Delhi-National Capital Region (which includes major neighbouring towns like Faridabad, Gurugram, Noida, and Ghaziabad), infamous for recording very poor and severe levels of air quality for the most part of the year, the data from the continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations show that there has been “substantial improvement in the air quality of Delhi-NCR during the lockdown period, as the major contributing sources to particulate matter (PM) and NO2 emissions (prominent pollutants in Delhi NCR) have been restricted.” The CPCB report said that the air quality index Delhi-NCR was largely under “moderate” category in the week before the start of lockdown period and as the days progressed, under the cumulative effect of restricted vehicle movement, industrial and commercial activities, the AQI improved to “satisfactory” category.

It explained that during the first few days of the lockdown the air quality was even recorded in the “good” category in Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida due to factors like scattered rains but after April 4 due to meteorological factors the air quality shifted to “moderate” category. ‘Further, a dust storm from the gulf region hit Delhi and the surrounding areas on April 15, further pushing the air quality to the higher end of the moderate category.”

However, experts are worried that once the lockdown is lifted and industries resume operations, the sudden spike in pollution could make the situation worse.

T K Joshi, who is a member of the CPCB, SAID that an increase in air pollution once the lockdown is lifted is an important concern.

“The lockdown has ensured less use of fossil fuels which are the primary reason behind global warming. Also, staying at home has helped in containing the exposure of people to this new disease which is still not being understood. Initial reports have highlighted that the majority of deaths (of those infected from Covid-19) occurred due to respiratory issues. So, if one has damaged lungs due to heavy exposure to air pollution, smoking or diseases like Asthma their vulnerability increases. The reduction in air pollution has also resulted in reducing the overall impact of this disease,” Joshi said.

He also cautioned that he doesn’t see life returning to the pre-lockdown period anytime soon until a permanent solution or a vaccine is found. Joshi informed that ministries of environment and health of the central government are also expected to meet soon to decide the future course of action on the health and environment front.

“People need to understand how a clean environment is related to the overall wellbeing of the people. The way forward for the authorities depends on the progress of measures that have been put in place by the government,” said Joshi.

This post first appeared on Mongabay. We welcome your comments at

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