Hyderabad: After fresh air, now come the smoke and dust. The city, which got to inhale some fresh air during the lockdown and during the early months of the monsoon, is now witnessing a steady deterioration in air quality with traffic and regular activities returning to normal.
Though the pollution levels had dropped since factories had closed and construction activities came to a standstill during the lockdown, air pollution is witnessing a steady rise since July.
The reason is that a majority of the people who stayed at home are now out on the roads on their vehicles.
There are an estimated 60 lakh vehicles, mostly two-wheelers and four-wheelers, in the city, which are major contributors to pollution. With the roads now having almost usual traffic, especially with RTC buses too back in service, the ambient air quality (AAQ) has taken a hit.
According to data from the Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB), air monitoring stations installed at different parts of the city including Sanathnagar, Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and Zoo Park have registered the AAQ levels going up.
The HCU area witnessed parameters like PM 2.5, PM10, CO and NO2 deteriorating considerably. If PM10 levels here were around 30 in April when the complete lockdown was enforced, it has gone up to 65 on September 30. The PM2.5 levels went up from 12.2 on April 21 to 37.7 on September 30.
Similarly, one of the highly polluted zones in the city, Zoo Park, which had PM2.5 and PM10 levels of 20 and 50 in April, logged 71.4 and 37.05 respectively on September 30.
TSPCB officials said there were various factors such as vehicular pollution, release of gases from industries and dust pollution responsible for deterioration of air quality. “As the traffic is slowly increasing and people moving out, the pollution levels have been on rise these days,” said a senior official.
AQI to rise in winter
As if this is not enough, winter could make it worse from October to February. The air quality index (AQI) drops considerably during winter when cold weather coupled with fog prevents dust particles and pollutants in the air from dispersing easily.
Usually pollution levels drop during monsoons as pollutants get washed out. However, once winter sets in, AQI begins to rise. Among all parts, it is industrial areas that mostly settle in the ‘Moderate’ category during winter every year.
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