Experts also stressed the need to spread awareness that pollution is not just an urban problem.(HT Photo)
Experts also stressed the need to spread awareness that pollution is not just an urban problem.(HT Photo)

‘Lockdown lessons can help govt’

“Right after we came out of the lockdown, we saw both pollution levels as well as {vehicular} traffic increasing, and quite dramatically so. This was, however, expected because it was a forced change and not because of systemic changes made,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment.
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:31 AM IST

Delhi Lessons learnt from the Covid-19 lockdown on the city’s air quality and what contributes to atmospheric pollution need to be put to use by government agencies and policymakers to make sustainable and long-term gains in the battle against dirty air, environmental experts said on Thursday.

The lockdown enforced on March 25 led to a drastic fall in the overall emission levels, but the decline in pollution was short-lived and air quality deteriorated when the restrictions were lifted, said Kalpana Balakrishnan, director of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s Centre for Advanced Research on Air Quality, Climate and Health, and Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment.

“Right after we came out of the lockdown, we saw both pollution levels as well as {vehicular} traffic increasing, and quite dramatically so. This was, however, expected because it was a forced change and not because of systemic changes made,” said Roychowdhury.

Balakrishnan said that the while the coronavirus disease pandemic caught the world unawares, low-grade epidemics have been hitting different parts of India for a long time; air pollution may not kill people immediately, but it makes people more vulnerable to health hazards through prolonged exposure.

“Acting to control air pollution is extremely important mainly because of its health impact. The Covid-19 pandemic showed us that it is possible to achieve public transport efficiency by reducing the number of commuters, who don’t need to come to work to earn their livelihood,” said Balakrishnan.

She added: “Even if they are not using public transport for the fear of infection, and were using their private vehicles, but for three or four days a week, this will pave way for a major reduction in emissions. This experiment, which proved successful during Covid-19, is a game-changer because under normal circumstances, we would have never been able to convince policymakers and the general public that work, education and health-care are all possible with reduced transportation footprints.” She said that an important step towards tackling air pollution is to first demystify the difference between emergency actions and a long-term, comprehensive plan.

Experts also stressed the need to spread awareness that pollution is not just an urban problem.

In a session on electric vehicles (EVs), Anand Kulkarni, director of the EV unit at Tata Motors, said electric cars can be a game-changer as the automobile industry is struggling to reduce tailpipe emissions.

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Representational image. (AFP)
Representational image. (AFP)

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The environmentalist has submitted pictures and videos with location coordinates as evidence of illegal dumping. (Sourced Photo )

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A Kashmiri boy walks homeward after attending private classes, after a brief spell of fresh snowfall in the outskirts of Srinagar on Saturday.(AP)

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