UPDATED: July 7, 2021, 10:56 PM IST
Hyderabad’s NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) pollution level increased between April 2020 and April 2021, a Greenpeace India report has revealed.
The report–Behind The Smokescreen–analysed satellite data of NO2 levels over a period of one year across India’s eighth-most populous state capitals.
NO2 pollution has increased in all the eight capitals studied Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Lucknow but Delhi has seen the ‘most dramatic increase’ during the period, the report said.
What is NO2?
NO2 is a dangerous air pollutant that is released when fuel is burned, as in most motor vehicles, power generation, and industrial processes. Exposure to NO2 can seriously affect the health of people of all ages.
It affects the respiratory and circulatory systems as well as the brain, leading to an increase in hospital admissions and deaths.
The satellite observations of NO2 analysed is based on monthly averages of measurements by the Tropomi sensor onboard the Sentinel-5P satellite.
Delhi’s NO2 pollution increased by 125%
According to the study, Delhi recorded the highest spike of 125 per cent between April 2020 and April 2021.
Although relatively better than the capital, other Indian cities too recorded an equally worrying increase in NO2 levels.
NO2 pollution increased by 94 per cent in Chennai, 90 per cent in Bengaluru, 69 per cent in Hyderabad, 52 per cent in Mumbai, 47 per cent in Jaipur, 32 per cent in Lucknow and 11 per cent in Kolkata in April 2021 compared to the same month last year, the study showed.
As the pandemic continues to have a severe impact on India during 2021, there is growing evidence that polluted cities suffer disproportionately more coronavirus cases.
Greenpeace India found that the NO2 concentrations increased after the initial nationwide lockdowns.
“The air quality levels in these cities are alarming. The cities and the people are already paying a huge price for our reliance on burning fossil fuels. This business as usual cannot continue. People saw clean skies and breathed fresh air during the nationwide lockdown though it was an unintended consequence of the pandemic,” said Avinash Chanchal, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace India.
Motor vehicles and industries based on fossil fuel consumption are the major causes of NO2 pollution in Indian cities.
“The governments, local administration and city planners must initiate the transition from privately owned vehicles to an efficient, clean and safe public transport system that is run on clean energy that, of course, must provide Covid-19-related safety measures,” Chanchal added.