Curbs help 4 metros meet clean air targets

NEW DELHI: Unprecedented lockdown measures resulted in four cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru — achieving 95% of their 2024 National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) targets in a short span of 74 days, says a study on concentration of different air pollutants in these cities for over 10 weeks during the March-June period.
Researchers found all the four cities managed to better their 2024 NCAP target by around 30%, with Kolkata surpassing its target by over 50% during the lockdown due to Covid.
Besides studying PM levels, researchers from Mumbai-based Respirer Living Sciences and Delhi-based Carbon Copy analysed average levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3) and benzene as part of their ongoing NCAP tracker project to monitor implementation of the national programme.
Though levels of key pollutants, including PM2.5 and PM10 (particulate matters that can easily enter lungs and cause ailments), have already started moving up with reopening of industries and construction work in the unlocking phase, the four phases of lockdown period presented a baseline data which may act as a marker for policy-makers in taking corrective steps through specific measures.
“This lockdown presents an opportunity to understand background pollution levels in India, which will be present even in the best-case scenario. The PM2.5 levels ranged between 20-49 micrograms per cubic metre across these four cities during the lockdown, which means that in the best-case scenario, we cannot go below that. The WHO guideline for PM2.5 annual mean level is 10 micrograms per cubic meter,” Sagnik Dey, coordinator of Centre for Excellence for Research on Clean Air (CERCA) at IIT-Delhi, was quoted as saying by the study.
India has an overall target to reduce hazardous PM levels by 20-30% by 2024 from the 2017 levels in 122 cities under the NCAP which was launched in January last year.

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