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Air pollution higher this winter than previous year, finds report

A report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), comparing air pollution levels between the winter of 2020 with that of the previous year, has revealed that average air pollution was higher this winter in the city
By Suparna Roy, Gurugram
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 11:13 PM IST

A report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), comparing air pollution levels between the winter of 2020 with that of the previous year, has revealed that average air pollution was higher this winter in the city. However both Gurugram and Faridabad reported better air quality than Delhi.

The institute came to the conclusion after studying granular real-time data of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 (15-minute averages) for 99 cities including 49 cities from Northern India from the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) official online portal, called Central Control Room for Air Quality Management, from October 1, 2019 till January 31, 2020, and from October 1, 2020 till January 31, 2021.

Analysing the data, the CSE report states that 26 cities in the region, including Gurugram, shows an increasing trend in air pollution, recording over 8% increase from last winter.

As per the report, Faridabad and Gurugram are in the top 20 cities according to the PM 2.5 levels during the winter.

Gurugram was ranked 16 with a 9% increase in the average PM 2.5 levels during the winter and 8% increase in peak levels of PM 2.5. At rank 14, Faridabad reported an 8% decrease in the average PM 2.5 levels during the winter and 14% decrease in peak (seasonal peak of a city is based on mean of the highest daily PM2.5) levels of PM 2.5. The seasonal peak of a city is based on mean of the highest daily PM2.5.

Both the cities, however, ranked below other cities of the National Capital Region (NCR), like Ghaziabad (ranked at 1), Greater Noida, Noida, Delhi (which were among the top five cities).

Reacting to cities of Haryana reporting lesser air pollution compared to other cities of NCR, S Narayanan, member secretary of Haryana State Pollution Control Board(HSPCB) said, “Compared to the last winter season, this winter, we took a lot of steps to control air pollution. We took steps under Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) along with increased night patrolling to monitor industrial emissions. This winter, we also strictly arrested air pollution through banning firecrackers during the festive season. Along with these measures, rainfall also helped in controlling air pollution, especially cities like Gurugram and Faridabad.”

Avikal Somvanshi, programme manager for sustainable cities with CSE, said, “The analysis is based on comparison with the previous winter (2019-2020) when the weather conditions were different and rainfall activity was higher compared to the current outgoing winter season. Rainfall activity helps in washing down of pollutants, PM 2.5 in this case. This year, i.e. 2020-2021, we did not witness as much rain, which could be one of the reasons for higher seasonal average.”

He added that measures taken by authorities to control air pollution also had a role to play in the decreased data for peak winter pollution.

“Peak pollution is usually reported when smog accumulates. With the latest data analysis, we can see that peak has been reducing over the years. When measures like shutting down of construction activities and shutting down of brick kilns through the Grap is imposed, it helps a lot in controlling the peak pollution,” added Somvanshi.

Meanwhile, Haryana did not have any cities in the top ten most polluted cities of Northern India, however, eight cities were listed in top 20. Fatehabad saw a jump of 228% in the seasonal average. Meanwhile, Bhiwani and Palwal recorded the lowest seasonal average during the 2020-21 winter with over 60% drop from the previous season.

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