Manali: Pollution levels have fallen globally because of the lockdowns enforced to check the spread of coronavirus and people here are in awe that the contagion is a boon for nature as the air quality of Manali has improved to be counted among the cleanest in the country today. Where the air has been purified, even the water flowing in rivers and streams is cleaner.
The salubrious climate of Manali with its clean air holds a lot of attraction for tourists, but in the last few years due to increased tourist inflow, construction activity and vehicular traffic, pollution levels had been steadily rising.
Restricted movement of vehicles in the state, construction activity shut down and only very few industries permitted to operate, pollution levels in the tourist town has decreased by 50 to 60 percent.
Pollution data released by HP Pollution Control Board on 18 April shows that the Suspended Particle Matter (SPM) level at Manali had fallen below 15 points, making it among the purest air anywhere in the country.
Where the Respirable Suspended Particle Matter (RSPM) at 100 micro grams per cubic meter is considered to be clean air, for Manali it was recorded at 9 RSPM, making it one of purest air recordings anywhere in the country. Earlier, the air in Kinnaur valley, also in Himachal Pradesh, was rated as the purest in the country.
Not just Manali, pollution levels across the industrial areas of the state have also reduced by as much as 70 percent. Currently only about 5% of the vehicles are plying on the roads and other than pharmaceutical units, no other industries have been permitted to operate in the state.
Pollution (RSPM) levels at Baddi, Shimla, Sundernagar, Parwanoo and Una has dropped down to the prescribed standards. RSPM is below 50 micro grams per cubic meter in most areas.
The drop in pollution levels, especially the man made pollution levels, should have the government, the pollution control regulators and the hospitality industry take charge by pushing for renewable energy and invest in a cleaner air for a better climate to sustain a healthy tourism for all.