Bengaluru witnessed 90% spike in NO2 pollution between April 2020 and 2021

Greenpeace report says Delhi observed the most dramatic increase among all eight Indian cities studied

Despite initial gains during the national lockdown in 2020 and subsequent ones imposed by various State governments this year to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, pollution levels remained a problem in major cities in India.

A new report from Greenpeace India revealed that nitrogen dioxide(NO2) pollution increased in all eight most populous State capitals studied. Among Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Lucknow, Delhi saw the most dramatic increase between April 2020 and April 2021.

NO2 is a dangerous air pollutant that is released when fuel is burned, including in most motor vehicles, power generation, and industrial processes. Exposure is known to severely impact people’s health at all ages, including the respiratory and circulatory systems and the brain, leading to increases in hospital admissions and mortality, Greenpeace said.

“According to satellite observations, NO2 pollution in Bengaluru increased by 90% between April 2020 and April 2021. The weather had only little contribution to this change. In Delhi, NO2 was higher by 125%, in Mumbai, 52% higher, Hyderabad by 69%, Chennai by 94%, Kolkata by 11%, Jaipur by 47% and Lucknow by 32% in April 2021 than in the same month of the previous year,” a release said.

Greenpeace pointed out that as the pandemic continues to have a severe impact, there is growing evidence that polluted cities suffer disproportionately more coronavirus cases.


“The health impact of fossil-fuel related air pollution is severe and has been reflected time and again in several reports. Yet, there has been little change to our reliance on fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas, increased economic activity is still largely coupled to toxic air pollution in most of the cities,” the release said.

Avinash Chanchal, Senior Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace India, said air quality levels in these cities are alarming and the people are already paying a huge price for our reliance on burning fossil fuels.

“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,” he said.

He recommended that 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.

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Sagar Biswas

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