Pune, June 28, 2020: This year the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that it is possible to have clean air. And the pandemic has shown us how bad air can affect our health, increasing our vulnerability to diseases. Studies from Harvard and Italy have shown a significantly higher number of COVID-19 cases and mortality in areas with high air pollution.
As of today, there is no way of doing away with the Coronavirus, but there are ways of reducing air pollution. Since vehicular emissions are the major source of harmful air pollution in cities we have put together this small questionnaire which captures this source of pollution and ways in which it can be reduced.
On the occasion of World Environment Day, Pune-based NGO Parisar conducted an online survey to know more about how they might respond to situations, given that vehicular emissions are a major contributor to air pollution. 154 respondents answered the survey questionnaire.
Upto 5 km seems to be the most preferred distance to walk and cycle in the city. In terms of urban planning, this also indicates that cities should promote and preserve mixed-use and discourage travelling long distances for crucial services like education, work, medical aid and shopping and recreational needs.
The two major responses (higher frequency and less crowding) are related; if there are more buses there can be higher frequency and subsequently there will be less crowding. Currently, PMPML has a fleet of 2250 buses (1466 on-road) and a ridership of 11.6 lakhs. As per norms (50 buses per lakh population), the Pune Metro Region (pop ~ 50 lakhs) served by PMPML needs 2500 buses plying on the roads. Post-Covid, the requirement for buses will be much higher considering that social distancing norms will reduce the capacity of the buses by 50-60%.
People reported feeling more energetic during the lockdown phase due to reduced pollution and also experienced lesser allergies, coughs and sore throats. Some responses from people which couldn’t fit in our options but are very interesting are the following;
● Didn’t get asthma attack for two months
● More birds around. Especially sparrows which had vanished.
● Things appear fresher and better