Pollution bouncing back in middle and lower Indo-Gangetic Plain

  • IASbaba
  • January 11, 2022
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(Down to Earth: Pollution)

Dec 10: Pollution bouncing back in middle and lower Indo-Gangetic Plain-https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/pollution-bouncing-back-in-middle-and-lower-indo-gangetic-plain-cse-81059


  • GS-3- Pollution

Pollution bouncing back in middle and lower Indo-Gangetic Plain

Context: Pollution is bouncing back in the eastern states of West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha after a short decline due to disruption by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a new analysis of regional pollution trends done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). 

  • Most cities in the region recorded a rising trend in annual particulate matter (PM) 2.5 level in 2021, after the initial drop during 2020 due to pandemic-linked lockdown phases.
  • Cities in the region needed big cuts in annual average PM2.5 levels to meet clean air standards.

Cities covered under the Analysis

The analysis covered 29 continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations spread across 12 cities in the three states:

  • West Bengal: Durgapur, a big industrial hub of West Bengal, had the most polluted air in the region in 2021, with an annual average PM2.5 level of 80 microgram per cubic metre (µg/m3).
  • Bihar: Followed by Muzaffarpur and Patna, with annual average PM2.5 levels of 78 µg/m3 and 73 µg/m3 respectively.
  • Odisha: The only state where Bajrajnagar and Talcher had met the annual standard with average.

Days with ‘poor’ air quality were highest in Durgapur at 71, followed by 67 in Patna, 53 in Kolkata and 51 in Howrah.

Major Findings

  • Eastern India usually sees a significant increase in the amount of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air of all its cities during December, compared to the previous months of November, October and September.
  • NO2 levels corelate well with traffic peaks in cities

The Way Forward

  • Need to scale up action across all sectors — industry, power plants, vehicles and transport, waste management, clean cooking fuel and dust control to meet the national ambient air quality standard and to prevent rebound of pollution in the region.
  • This analysis of real time air quality data for the period 2019-2021 shows that the downward dip in pollution that was induced by the hard lockdown phases of the pandemic in 2020 is threatening to bounce back with the levels in 2021 already rising. But in many cases, the levels are still lower than 2019. This underscored the urgency of scaling up action across all sectors to prevent further worsening and to arrest the trend in this region.

Note: The Air Quality Index (AQI) represents 24-hour average air quality data. The air quality is considered to be ‘very poor’ when the AQI is from 301-400, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines. An AQI of 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’. Above 500 is the ‘severe-plus or emergency’ category.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. After a decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha are seeing a resurgence in pollution. Examine.

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