A comparative study of air quality and mobility patterns before, during and after the COVID-19 lockdowns (2020) in Bengaluru and their correlation with hybrid work systems in the city revealed that during the lockdown period (May 2020), a drastic 60% decrease in traffic density was observed, with corresponding decline in AQI to 61 from 95 (in pre-lockdown months).
Post-lockdown (October 2020), there was a 35% increase in traffic movement owing to restrictions being eased and onset of the festive season.
Greenpeace India’s report, Flexicity, which intended to analyse the contribution of vehicular emissions to Bengaluru’s air quality and recommend mitigatory measures in the form of flexible, hybrid work systems, also showed that the city’s AQI levels also show a steady increase in the post-lockdown period reaching pre-lockdown pollution levels over the months of October to December 2020.
The study observes high traffic movement during the pre-lockdown period (February to March 2020), which is close to the average traffic congestion levels in the city (established as the baseline). The improvement in air quality during the lockdown period is attributed to the sudden halting of various economic activities across the city. However, in the absence of major industrial clusters within city limits, the report considers vehicular emissions to be one of the significant contributors of air pollution (PM10) in Bengaluru.
Using data from the Google Community Mobility Report, the report identifies five primary traffic congestion points within the city for the comparative analysis of traffic data across the three time periods. The five roads identified within the municipal boundary of Bengaluru Urban were MG Road, Silk Board Junction, BTM Layout, Bapuji Nagar, and Tin Factory. These points accommodate more than 500 IT services and BPO companies in their vicinity, a Greenpeace release pointed out.
“The findings make a strong case for these corporations to execute long-term hybrid, or flexible work policies, which are found to have a direct correlation with reduced vehicular emissions,” the release added.