A report by Greenpeace India, through satellite observations, revealed that NO2 emissions have increased in all eight state capitals that were observed.

Sattelite images showing NO2 emissions Courtesy:Greenpeace India
news Environment Wednesday, July 07, 2021 - 13:43

Greenpeace India’s latest report has recorded a dramatic increase in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) emission in all eight Indian cities that were studied. The list includes Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur and Lucknow in north India and Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai among the southern states. According to the report, it was inferred from satellite observations that Delhi saw the maximum spike of 125% in NO2 emissions, Chennai recorded a 94% increase, Bengaluru recorded a 90% spike and Hyderabad recorded a 69% increase in April 2021 than in the same month of the previous year. NO2 is a dangerous air pollutant that is released when fuel is burned. Motor vehicles, power generation and industrial processes contribute to the spike in NO2 emissions. Exposure to NO2 can severely impact people's health at all ages, including the respiratory and circulatory systems and the brain, leading to increase in hospital admissions and mortality.


Satellite images showing increase in NO2 levels in Hyderabad

According to Greenpeace India, there is growing evidence that polluted cities suffer disproportionately more coronavirus cases, amid the ongoing pandemic. The health impact of fossil-fuel related air pollution is severe and has been reflected time and again in several reports. The satellite observations of NO, analysed in Greenpeace India’s study are monthly averages of measurements. Air pollution is highly sensitive to weather conditions. Therefore, the data is averaged to monthly means and compared to equivalent periods in different calendar years.

Courtesy: Greenpeace India

Commenting on the spike in the NO2 pollution levels in Chennai, Prabhakaran Veeraarasu, Environmental Engineer of environmental organisation Poovulagin Nanbargal said, “Greenpeace’s study clearly shows this difference by comparing the lockdown and post-lockdown pollution scenario in Chennai. Emissions from industries including Thermal power plants, Petrochemical industries and ports are the reason for north Chennai’s pollution whereas vehicular pollution contributes more to central and south Chennai pollution.  It is a stark reminder to have a demographic sectoral approach to address Chennai's pollution. Shifting towards decentralised renewable energy, developing public transport infrastructure, encouraging non-motor transport and ensuring last mile connectivity can be the focused targets to reduce vehicular pollution in Chennai.”


Satellite images showing increase in NO2 levels in Chennai

“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. The disruption caused by the pandemic is a case to transition to cleaner, equitable and sustainable decentralised energy sources such as rooftop solar and clean and sustainable mobility must be central to recovery efforts across cities. The recovery from the pandemic must not come at the expense of a return to previous levels of air pollution,” said Avinash Chanchal, senior climate campaigner, Greenpeace India.


Satellite images showing increase in NO2 levels in Bengaluru

 

Suggesting a solution to the increasing levels of pollution, Chanchal added, “Motor vehicles and industries based on fossil fuel consumption are the major drivers 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.”

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