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HyderabadLingering Covid fear hits Hyderabad’s air quality

Lingering Covid fear hits Hyderabad’s air quality

Published: 17th Mar 2021 12:21 am

Hyderabad: Is the fear of Covid-19 linked to the deteriorating air quality in the city? Some officials think so.

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Though different public transport modes, right from State Road Transport Corporation buses to the Hyderabad Metro Rail, are back in action after last year’s lockdown, the fear of crowds and crowded spaces, it appears, is still making many continue to opt for their private vehicles. And this, along with an increase of over two lakh vehicles in the city, has triggered a dip in the air quality.

The difference is visible when one compares the Air Quality Index (AQI) of February 2020 with that of February 2021. The AQI is a measure of air quality, ranging from Good (0-50), Satisfactory (51-100), Moderate (101-200), Poor (201-300), Very Poor (301-400) and Severe (>400). In other words, the higher the number is, the worse the air quality is.

Data from six National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP), 12 State Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (SAAQM) and 6 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (CAAQM) monitoring stations across the city shows an average increase of 23 in the AQI, taking Hyderabad air from being satisfactory to moderate status.

In February 2020, there were 16 stations out of the 24 that were within the Satisfactory range but in February 2021, there are only 6 of those which are in the Satisfactory AQI range.

According to a senior official from the Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB), the increase in individual vehicular traffic is responsible for the increase in pollution in the city.

“A month before the lockdown, i.e. February 2020, there wasn’t any fear of the disease and more people opted for public transport in comparison to now. There is a significant reduction in public transport and a significant rise in individual vehicles on the roads. This has increased the pollution in the city,” said the official.

The CAAQM monitoring station at Sanathnagar shows the maximum difference as the AQI was 95 in February 2020 and 158 in February 2021, showing a difference of 63 points. The NAMP monitoring station at Balanagar comes next, with a difference of 50 points, from 119 to 169. The AQI at Jubilee Hills showed the least difference, of only 4 points, with an increase from 103 to 107 while Kukatpally comes next with a difference of 5, from 104 to 109.

The monitoring station at KBR National Park showed an AQI of 64 in February 2021 and though there is an increase of 6 points from 2020, it is the only one with the best AQI in the city.

On the other hand, in 2020, Hyderabad saw an addition of 2.70 lakh vehicles, from 58.1 lakh vehicles in 2019 to over 60 lakh vehicles in 2020. This addition of vehicles in conjunction with the reduction in people opting for public transport has drastically affected the air quality in the city, officials say.

Lingering Covid fear

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