NEW DELHI: As India remained under lockdown for the fourth consecutive day, the nations focus stayed on preventing the spread of Covid-19 infections and helping stranded citizens. Meanwhile, an unprecedented change was in the air, literally. With steep decline in traffic volumes, construction and industrial activity, India on Saturday recorded the best air quality in years, if not decades.
The days average air quality index was in the top category (“good”) in as many as 35 cities out of 101 monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board on Saturday. Experts are calling this “unprecedented” and “unbelievable”, not seen since the national air quality index was launched in 2014.
Delhi recorded its bestever AQI of 45 on Saturday, a day after a spell of rain. This was the first “good air” day in the capital since August 18 last year and only the third in more than three years. This was also the first time that the capital recorded AQI in the “good” range outside the monsoon months.
A clear blue sky in the capital, with pollution levels down
Good air in March rare in Delhi
An average AQI of 45 has never been achieved in Delhi since the air quality index was launched. March is a month of weather transition. An AQI in the good range is unheard of in Delhi during this month,” said Dipankar Saha, former head of CPCBs air lab.
Improvement in air quality was seen across Indian cities, a trend clearly linked to the national lockdown. TOI studied AQI data of eight major cities during the past 14 days and found significant reduction in air pollution in all cities in the seven days since Sundays janata curfew. Additionally, an overwhelming number of CPCB stations across India, 108 out of 116, reported cleaner air on March 26 — Day 2 of the lockdown — as compared to the same day last year.
“It is unbelievable. I would say 35 cities reporting good air quality in a single day has not happened since the AQI regime was started. That this is taking place in March is even more remarkable,” said A B AkolkRead More – Source