Bengaluru’s air quality can be improved with WFH, flexible work models: Report

The study by Greenpeace India analysed five congestion points in Bengaluru including MG Road and Silk Board, to study the correlation between traffic and air quality.
Traffic in Bengaluru on Outer Ring Road: Bengaluru’s air quality can be improved with WFH, flexible work models, says report
Traffic in Bengaluru on Outer Ring Road: Bengaluru’s air quality can be improved with WFH, flexible work models, says report

Air quality levels in Bengaluru had improved during the COVID-19 lockdowns and dipped when the restrictions were lifted, a report published by Greenpeace India found. The report added that remote or hybrid work would help improve the air quality in the city as there would be lesser traffic. Five congestion points across the city — MG Road, Silk Board, BTM Layout, Bapuji Nagar and Tin Factory — were studied to understand traffic mobility and its impact on the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Bengaluru. The average traffic in these areas was calculated for five weeks before the lockdown between January 3, 2020 and February 6, 2020, as a comparison scale for the study.  

Change in traffic and mobility 

Before lockdown 

It is to be noted that the five traffic congestion points considered for the study accommodate more than 500 IT and Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) companies employing lakhs of people. The report said that before any lockdown (February 15, 2020 to March 15, 2020), there was high traffic observed in all five points considered for the study. It added, “Conditions like frequent traffic jams during rush hours were very common. A minor decline in the use of transit stations was seen in retail, recreation and workplaces.” 

During lockdown 

During the lockdown between May 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020, traffic and mobility fell steeply by 60% since there was a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. However, in residential areas, there was an increase in mobility by 29% as people might have travelled to buy essential supplies and medicines or to visit the hospital. 

After lockdown 

However, once the lockdown was lifted (October 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020), things returned to normal. Mobility had risen by 35% primarily because of the fall in COVID-19 cases and because Diwali and Dasara were celebrated in this month. 

Change in air quality 

The report said that the city’s AQI has a correlation with the number of vehicles on the roads. The AQI declined significantly from 95 in the pre-lockdown months to 61 during the lockdown. An AQI of 0-50 is termed as ‘good’ while anything between 51-100 is considered ‘satisfactory’ by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. After the partial relaxation of lockdown restrictions in October, the AQI began to rise again and stood close to 80 in December 2020

Apart from the analysis, Greenpeace’s report also provided recommendations to maintain healthy air quality in the city. It suggests that remote or hybrid work models can be implemented by corporations so that the number of vehicles on roads, especially cars, will be reduced. Space must be increased for green covers throughout the city and reduced for motorised vehicles. Further, the report added that non-motorised transport infrastructure must be developed and made accessible to the common public.

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