Business Standard tracks pollution levels, mobility based on location data and traffic congestion; besides rail and power generation numbers. They provide a more current picture of the economy ahead of the release of official numbers, such as gross domestic product, which are often released with a lag. Analysts globally have been tracking similar numbers in a bid to get a sense of the situation on the ground amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Indian Railways
carried 8.08 per cent more goods by quantity for the seven days ended Sunday, January 3, than over the same period last year. This is higher than the 5.77 per cent figure reported the previous week. Earnings from goods carried have also risen by 7.62 per cent over the last year, compared to the previous week’s gains of 3.26 per cent (see chart 1).
Power generation was also higher than what was seen a year ago for the week ended Sunday, January 3. The latest week showed a 4.7 per cent gain, compared to 4.6 per cent during the previous week. Power generation had dropped nearly 30 per cent at the height of the lockdown (see chart 2).
Search engine Google uses anonymised location data to see how people are moving during the pandemic. The latest data is as of December 29. Workplace visits are at 82.14 per cent of what is seen during normal times. The report also showed that visits to transit stations, such as bus stops and subways, were at their peak since the lockdown was announced in March. The visits have reached 92.14 per cent of normal times. (see chart 3).
Business Standard also tracks nitrogen dioxide emissions. The pollutant comes from industrial activity and vehicles. Delhi’s emissions had risen significantly over last year’s levels in recent times, showing as much as a 50 per cent gain in seven-day rolling average terms. Data for the week ending Sunday, January 3, shows that it is now 3 per cent below last year’s levels. Mumbai emissions, based on Bandra locality data, are also down having fallen 96 per cent (see charts 4 and 5).
Traffic in both cities is still below what was seen before the pandemic. New Delhi’s traffic congestion on Monday (January 4) morning at 9am was down 47 per cent compared to 2019, according to data from global location technology firm TomTom
International. Mumbai’s traffic congestion was down 42 per cent (see chart 6).