It has been a year since the frenzy of the pandemic started and life stood still. While we had been inside, locked at our homes, our environment kept changing- for the better in fact. Several studies across the period of the lockdown have concluded that the pandemic was a “blessing in disguise” for nature and its resources. The pollution levels if compared to pre covid times, shows a brighter future in the fight for our environment.
Moving on to its impact on water in particular, the focus areas of these studies were based on noting the contamination levels of several water bodies. The study by ActionAid Association with Nadi Adhikar Abhiyan observed that the opacity and foul odour of the rivers had decreased along with the emission of industrial waste into the river water. Moreover, the survey also revealed the increase in the population of fish and the migratory birds in and around the rivers thus, bringing on a positive impact not only to the quality of water but also to the biodiversity of rivers. Additionally, this improvement has led to the rivers being used for agricultural purposes increasingly, inducing hopes for the well-being of the agricultural sector as well.
Another major focus of these studies was based on the remote sensing data, where the suspended particulate matter (SPM) concentrations which determine the turbidity levels (the presence of organisms and objects which make the river obscure) in the rivers have also decreased over the period of lockdown. This became evident through the studies done on Vembanad Lake, the longest freshwater lake in India, and Sabarmati River reporting a significant decrease in percentage compared to the pre-lockdown figures with April 2020 being the lowest of all the preceding years.
It is surprising to note the fact that, while in 2019, it was declared that the world had only a year more to live due to the unfettered urbanization, industrialization, and overexploitation, the pandemic healed the damage that felt overwhelming to overcome, in mere 5-6 months. Without a doubt, our planet has healing capacities beyond our imagination and it is the anthropogenic activities that hinder the process. Therefore, as we go back to our regular life, it is our responsibility to live our lives with this awareness, and be conscious of the impact our actions have on the environment at an individual, and societal level, to protect this leap nature has made to protect us and our world.