Hyderabad: It is no secret that the lockdown has helped bring down air pollution levels in Hyderabad. However, a closer look reveals that the ambient air quality (AAQ) has improved on more than one count, right from when key parameters like levels of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Ammonia (NH3) are considered.
According to reports by the Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB), there have been significant changes in the levels of these substances in the air from January to May, with a drastic drop in the levels in May, understandably due to reduction in vehicular movement during the lockdown.
For instance, SO2 levels measured at National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) stations at various places dropped to almost half from January 2021 to May 2021, as they were hovering between 3.4-4.7 µg/m3 in January 2021, 2.6-3.7 µg/m3 in April and 2.0 at all of the six stations in May 2021.
While the NOx levels did not come down by such a major factor in these months, they did reduce to a certain extent, with a difference of about 10 points at all monitoring stations. The NAMP station at Jeedimetla is the only one that showed a slight increase when April and May are compared, as it was 39.6 in April and 40.2 in May. However, this level is also less compared to the 48.1 that it was in January.
Ammonia (NH3) levels also reduced significantly, with the highest change being observed at the NAMP station at Uppal, as it recorded 36µg/m3 in January and fell by half to 18 in May. Other NAMP stations also recorded a consistent drop from January to April to May.
The same can be said about Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels as they fell down at several sampling locations, except the one at Zoo Park. While a CO level of 0.3 µg/m3 was recorded at that location in January, it increased drastically to 0.9 µg/m3 in April but fell to 0.6 µg/m3 in May. While it fell from April to May at that one place, it did show an increase from January to May. Other locations recorded a consistent fall from January to May.
Taking into consideration all these factors, it can definitively be said that the quality of air improved in the city in the last one month. However, it remains to be seen as to whether this air quality will sustain post-unlock.
Pollution will increase post lockdown: Environmentalist
According to environmentalist and social scientist WG Prasanna Kumar, pollution levels will naturally increase once vehicular traffic increases post-lockdown.
“The Kukatpally-LB Nagar stretch and Secunderabad-Hitech City stretch sees the highest vehicular movement usually and after the lockdown, there will naturally be an increase in pollution levels across the city, especially in these stretches,” he says.
The onset of monsoon would also affect the pollution levels in the city. “Usually in Hyderabad, there is little wind during rains and subsequently, there is lesser dispersion of pollutants. Also, during rainfall, vehicular movement is slower and there’s more idling of vehicles in the traffic. All this leads to an increase in pollution levels in the traffic-dense areas,” he informed.
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