Today is World Environment Day.
This day raises awareness about issues related to the environment like air pollution, marine pollution, global warming, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, disposal of waste, human overpopulation etc. Promises are made to make improvements by global leaders with regards to improvements in the environment through various measures. But in 2020 the situation is quite different in Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken a toll of about 2,30,000 deaths worldwide. It might seem and feel strange and cruel but the credit of improvement in pollution level and environment, this year, goes to Covid-19 and the resultant global lock-down. Government and world-level agencies’ efforts would have taken decades and decades even to approach the marvelous and unbelievable results achieved during this period. As a matter of fact, Covid-19 is healing our planet and is a blessing in disguise. On the occasion of World Environment Day 2020, let us take a look at the positive impacts of Covid-19 lock-down on environment and public health.
According to an estimate by the World Health Organisation, about 4.6 million people die each year due to ailments caused by air pollution. Most nitrogen dioxide comes from roads and other modes of transportation and power plants. Now, with most factories and businesses closed, and fewer vehicles on road and planes in the sky, Covid-19 pandemic has slashed greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution around the world.
Each ton of nitrogen dioxide that is not emitted is equivalent to removing 62 cars per year from the road. India has the 3rd largest road network in the world and the total number of vehicles in 2017 stood at 253 million. Just imagine the result!!
During the period of lock-down in India since 24th March, our pollution level has drastically slowed down and the air quality has significantly improved. We are now breathing pure air, trees have become greener and we are spotting various wildlife even on our roads in cities. The major pollutants of river water, industrial and municipal wastewater, have stopped during this period. Even the water of River Ganga is now fit for drinking in Haridwar!!
These are some of the tangible improvements which are the outcome of Indian and global lock-down. Now, what should be concluded with regard to Covid-19? A very painful blessing?!