Tribune News Service
Patiala, April 5
While the entire population is reeling under curfew restrictions, the environment is heaving a sigh of relief. The skies are clear. The rivers are breathing. One can have a clear view of the Beas riverbed and see tiny fish, turtles and multi-coloured plants. It seems that the nature has pressed the reset button, with wild animals being sighted in cities in the absence of human presence.
“Ever since the imposition of the lockdown, pollution levels have gone down,” said Punjab Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Kuldip Kumar. To ensure that this positive impact of the lockdown on nature goes into record books, Punjab now wants to conduct a comprehensive study.
In a letter to the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Environment and Climate Change Department director Kahan Singh Pannu stated that the board wanted “to conduct a detailed study of the current pollution level scenario, status of various pollutants and their impact in reducing the pollution load”.
The lockdown has resulted in a drop in the pollution levels across the world. As the pandemic continues to halt industrial activities, it has given people some time to breathe.
Punjab Air Quality Index with an average of around 50 is one the longest stretch of days witnessed in the recent past.
“Amid gloom and doom, there is a silver lining. Mother Earth seems to have rejuvenated itself. Smog has given way to blue skies, marine life is seeing an increased activity, pollution levels have dropped and animals as well as birds are moving about on their own accord,” said Pannu in the letter dated April 3. “The load of plastic and non-biodegradable waste has reduced,” the letter stated.
Kuldip Kumar said they would soon release more gharials into the Beas.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) reading of Punjab is around 50. Before the lockdown, the average daily AQI reading was between 120 and 140. An AQI of under 50 is considered to be in the “good category”, which means the air pollution poses little or no risk. While the quality index between 51 and 100 is satisfactory, 101 and 200 is moderate, 201 and 300 is poor, 301 and 400 is very poor and 401 and above is severe.
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