Recovery tracker: Power generation, pollution levels retreat from highs

Traffic congestion on Monday morning (January 11) was 46 per cent lower in New Delhi than the same period in 2019
Gains in power generation and pollution levels took a breather for the latest week as the economy continues its trudge to normalcy.

Other weekly indicators such as traffic and mobility held steady. Business Standard tracks these and other metrics such as goods carried by Indian railways as a measure of how the economy is faring. Analysts across the globe have been tracking similar high frequency indicators to get a current sense of the economy as official data is often released with a lag, and nations the world over have gone into lockdown to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The year-on-year gains in power generation for the week ended Sunday, January 10, dropped to 2.9 per cent from 4.7 per cent the previous week.  Power generation had dipped nearly 30 per cent during the height of the lockdown. It had since recovered towards the end of July when it crossed last year’s levels (see chart 1).


Nitrogen dioxide comes from industrial activity and vehicles. Delhi’s emissions of the pollutant were 18.2 per cent lower than the previous year for the seven days ended Sunday, January 10. Mumbai emissions, based on data from Bandra, is down 97 per cent. Mumbai levels were over twice the 2019 levels in March before the lockdown (see chart 2, 3).


Traffic congestion on Monday morning (January 11) was 46 per cent lower in New Delhi than the same period in 2019. It was 44 per cent lower in Mumbai. This is in line with figures seen for the same time in the previous week. The numbers are for 9 a.m., and are based on data from global location technology firm TomTom International (see chart 4).


The Indian Railways showed higher gains in the quantity of goods carried, but gains in earnings dipped. Year-on-year freight loading gains rose from 8.08 per cent to 11.08 per cent, showed data for the seven days ended Sunday, January 10.  The year-on-year earnings fell from 7.62 per cent to 5.57 per cent (see chart 5).


Search engine Google’s data is released with a lag. The latest is for January 5. It uses anonymised location data for tracking visits to various categories of places. Visits to retail and recreation spots is down 26.57 per cent.  Grocery and pharmacy visits are up 9.71 per cent. Workplace visits show a rising trend after falling towards the end of the year. They are now at 84.71 per cent of what was seen before the pandemic (see chart 6).

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