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Environmental impact of covid-19 pandemic

Changes in Air, water, and noise pollution in New Delhi.

Evlyn Ann

The Covid-19 pandemic is making us climb the walls and it is affecting our lives drastically all across the globe. Even though it is taking a toll on our economy, it gives our nature a break from all the human-induced degradations to a certain level. The Government of India implemented a nationwide lockdown on March 25th, 2020 and this resulted in the complete shutdown of several industries across the country. This economic slowdown and reduced human activity dropped the pollution levels. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the pollution level in 88 cities dropped significantly within 4 days of the lockdown.

Delhi, the world’s most polluted capital city, hit an Air Quality Index of 500+ during October 2019, and generally, the index shows a 100+ throughout the year. As opposed to this scenario, during this lockdown, the AQI reading at Delhi’s ITO area was satisfactory at 53 on March 31, 2020, which is a 70% decrease from the previous year of the same day. The reduction in the pollution rates in Delhi is mainly due to decreased transportation as the metro trains, buses and flights have been shut and even the cab aggregators have also suspended their operations.

The concentration of PM2.5, PM10, Nitrogen oxide, and Carbon monoxide have reduced by about -51.84%, -53.11%, -52.68% and -30.35% respectively. Other industrially notable cities like Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Visakhapatnam, etc. also showed a declined pollution rate.

The reduced industrial operations and anthropogenic activities due to the lockdown is helping the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers to revive themselves. Delhi Jal Board Vice Chairman Raghav Chadda said that there was an improvement in the water quality due to the reduced industrial discharge to the river. A study proves that the dissolved oxygen content in the Ganga river has increased considerably and it also shows a reduced nitrate concentration. Even though the domestic discharge of wastes by households has not reduced, the cessation of industrial dumping itself created a positive change in the water pollution levels.

The lockdown has also made the lives of people in Delhi less clamorous. Being a city that never sleeps, Delhi is one of the noisiest places in India. Reduced conveyance and industrial activities brought down noise pollution by almost 40%.

Despite these positive impacts, many are sceptical about the future because the post lockdown might see a greater increase in industrial activities and it might nullify the present improvement. Whatsoever, it is true that this lockdown has brought some relief to Nature amidst all the chaos.

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