Bandra, Kurla saw highest dip in transport-caused pollution

By, Mumbai
Apr 04, 2020 07:48 PM IST

A study of pollution in Mumbai during the lockdown has shown that Bandra and Kurla, which generally witnesses high traffic congestion, has seen the maximum decline in transport pollution over the last two weeks.

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The study released on Saturday said that Bandra and Kurla, connected by Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), have improved air quality as most offices at BKC are using the work from home (WFH) model during the lockdown. Both areas have shown maximum reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx) levels. From March 17 to 22, Bandra saw an 81% decline in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) while NOx levels in Kurla went down by 92%. Thereafter a steady decline has been observed till April 1.

The details were part of an assessment of Central Pollution Control Board (CBCB) data prepared by anti-pollution campaigners Waatavaran Foundation. Vehicles and thermal power plants are major sources of NOx while vehicular emissions, burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil contribute to NO2 pollution. Both gases affect the human respiratory system.

The analysis calculated the percentage drop for five pollutants from March 17 to April 1 with NO2 levels falling by 87% over two weeks, PM2.5 by 72% and PM10 by 68.9%, NOX (calculated in parts per billion) by 88.39%, and carbon monoxide (CO) by 74%. All these major pollutants affect the overall air quality index (AQI) in the city. Borivli, Colaba and Powai had the cleanest air in the city. While Borivli’s monitoring station is located inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Colaba and Powai have a major advantage of sea breeze, the assessment said. The least decline in pollutants was observed across Sion and round the international airport in Andheri.

“The unprecedented lockdown scenario has provided valuable lessons through the WFH model, which can be inculcated in the long run to help improve air quality,” said Bhagwan Kesbhat, founder, Waatavaran.

On Saturday, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) also released its air quality assessment during the lockdown, which was similar to Waatavaran’s assessment as they both used the same data set. “Stringent travel, construction restrictions and shutting down of non-essential activities have led to an improvement in air quality. Particularly, contribution of re-suspension road dust has reduced PM2.5 considerably,” said E Ravindran, member secretary, MPCB. “Data from the lockdown period will be used for enhancing city action plans.”

Pulmonologists said there was a significant drop in patients suffering from lung-related ailments during this period due to cleaner air. “Everyone is wearing a mask, which helps improve hygiene too,” said Dr Sanjeev Mehta, pulmonologist, Lilavati Hospital in Bandra.

Meanwhile, between April 2 and 4, researchers identified a marginal spike in PM10 (breathable particulate matter of 10 micron size or smaller). “This is due to a rise in temperatures and increase in dust in the city’s air due to easterly winds. It will continue for at least two more days,” said Gufran Beig, project director, System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

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