Air Quality Analysis for Visakhapatnam (Vizag), India

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Visakhapatnam (shortly Vizag) is a coastal city on the eastern side of peninsular India and the financial capital of Andhra Pradesh.  The city is essentially a port city – it hosts the oldest shipyard in what is the only natural harbour on the eastern coast of India. For the same reason, it is the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Command.

The fishing sector employs 50,000 people and exports about 115,000 tons of seafood. The Visakhapatnam and Gangavaram Ports handled 51 million tons of cargo in 2016. This included coal, container shipments, and shipping steel produced in Visakhapatnam. The city also promoted the pharma sector by setting up the 2,400 acre Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City (JNPC) developed at Parawada.

Emissions Inventory Grid

The Greater Vishakapatnam Municipal Corporation has a large jurisdiction of about 700 – it includes the Gajuwaka, Anakapalle and Bheemunipatnam areas. With a population of about 2 million in 2011, it is the most populated cities in the state (after bifurcation of the state in 2014). To assess Visakhapatnam’s air quality, we selected an airshed covering 50km x 50km. This domain is further segregated into 1km grids, to study the spatial variations in the emission and the pollution loads.

Particulate and gaseous emissions in two coastal cities – Chennai and Visakhapatnam, India
Journal article in Air Quality, Atmosphere, & Health (2015) Download

Meteorology fields are important as they have a direct impact on air pollution concentrations. During periods of high precipitation or high speed winds, emissions from a city are swept away and do not have an impact on concentrations. On the other hand, during the winter months when temperatures and inversion heights are low, there is a greater impact of emissions on pollution concentrations. Low temperatures also affect behaviour through the need for space and water heating – which in turn has increases emissions.

We processed the NCEP Reanalysis global meteorological fields from 2010 to 2018 through the 3D-WRF meteorological model. A summary of the data for one year, averaged for the city’s airshed is presented below by month. Download the processed data which includes information on year, month, day, hour, precipitation (mm/hour), mixing height (m), temperature (C), wind speed (m/sec), and wind direction (degrees) – key parameters which determine the intensity of dispersion of emissions.

WRF Meteorology for Visakhapatnam

Multi-Pollutant Emission Inventory

We compiled an emissions inventory for the Visakhapatnam region for the following pollutants – sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), carbon dioxide (CO2); and particulate matter (PM) in four bins (a) coarse PM with size fraction between 2.5 and 10 μm (b) fine PM with size fraction less than 2.5 μm (c) black carbon (BC) and (d) organic carbon (OC), for year 2015 and projected to 2030. In Phase 1, base year for all the calculations was 2015. In Phase 2, all the calculations are updated for year 2018.

Emissions Inventory We customized the SIM-air family of tools to fit the base information collated from disparate sources. Apart from the official reports, resource material ranges from GIS databases of land use, land cover, roads and rail lines, water bodies, built up area (represented in the adjacent figure), commercial activities (such as hotels, hospitals, kiosks, restaurants, malls, cinema complexes, traffic intersections, worship points, industrial hubs, and telecom towers), to population density and meteorology at the finest spatial resolution possible (1-km). A detailed description of these resources is published as a journal article in 2019, which also includes a summary of baselines and pollution analysis for 20 Indian cities.

This emissions inventory is based on available local activity and fuel consumption estimates for the selected urban airshed (represented in the grid above). This information is collated from multiple agencies ranging from the central pollution control board, state pollution control board, census bureau, national sample survey office, ministry of road transport and highways, annual survey of industries, central electrical authority, ministry of heavy industries, and municipal waste management, and publications from academic and non-governmental institutions.

For the road transport emissions inventory, besides the total number of vehicles and their usage information, we also utilized vehicle speed information to spatially and temporally allocate the estimated emissions to the respective grids. This is a product of google maps services. For the city of Visakhapatnam, we extracted the speed information for representative routes across the city for multiple days. This data is summarized below for a quick look.

Emissions Inventory Emissions Inventory

The city is a hub of economic activity leading with fishing, ship-building, information-technology, textile manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and Aluminium and Ferrous industries. It is also part of major investments in the energy sector through the Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) program between the city and Kakinada. The program has a budget of almost Rs 3,50,000 crores and expected to generate 12,00,000 jobs. The Simhadri Super Thermal Power Plant run by NTPC is expanding from 1000 MW to 2000 MW in addition to NTPC investing in 4 x 1000 MW coal power plants in the area. The Hinduja Group is also investing in a 1070 MW thermal plant in Visakhapatnam district. Steel and Aluminium production are major heavy industry activities in the area because of the availability of manganese and bauxite reserves.

Emission Sources in visakhapatnam Emission Sources in visakhapatnam Emission Sources in visakhapatnam
Emission Sources in visakhapatnam Emission Sources in visakhapatnam Emission Sources in visakhapatnam
Emission Sources in visakhapatnam Emission Sources in visakhapatnam Emission Sources in visakhapatnam

The summary for a city’s emissions inventory does not include natural emission sources (like dust storms, lightning, and seasalt) and seasonal open (agricultural and forest) fires. However, these are included in the overall chemical transport modeling in the national scale simulations. These emission sources are accounted in the concentration calculation as an external (also known as boundary or long-range) contribution to the city’s air quality.

Projections to 2030 under the business as usual scenario are influenced by the city’s social, economic, landuse, urban, and industrial layout and hence the projected (increasing and decreasing) rates that we assume are an estimate only. We based the vehicle growth rate on the sales projection numbers; industrial growth on the gross domestic product of the state; domestic sector, construction activities, brick demand, diesel usage in the generator sets, and open waste burning on population growth rates and notes from the municipalities on plans to implement waste management programs. We used these estimates to evaluate the trend in the total emissions and their likely impact on ambient PM2.5 concentrations through 2030.

The emissions inventory was then spatially segregated at a 0.01° grid resolution in longitude and latitude (equivalent of 1 km) to create a spatial map of emissions for each pollutant (PM2.5, PM10, SO2, NOx, CO and VOCs). The gridded PM2.5 emissions and the total (shares by sector) emissions are presented below.

Gridded PM2.5 Emissions (2018 and 2030)

Emissions Inventory Emissions Inventory

Total PM2.5 Emissions by Sector 2018-2030

Emissions Inventory Emissions Inventory Emissions Inventory

TRANS = transport emissions from road, rail, aviation, and shipping (for coastal cities); RESIDEN = residential emissions from cooking, heating, and lighting activities; INDUS = industrial emissions from small, medium, and heavy industries (including power generation); ALL.DUST = dust emissions from road re-suspension and construction activities; W.BURN = open waste burning emissions; DG.SETS = diesel generator set emissions; B.KILNS = brick kiln emissions (not included in the industrial emissions)

Total Estimated Emissions by Sector for 2018 (units – tons/year)

Transport emissions from road, rail, aviation, and shipping (for coastal cities) 6,450 2,900 1,200 2,050 50,350 108,100 20,450 22,700
Residential emissions from cooking, heating, and lighting activities900950200450200 15,250 1,650 150
Industrial emissions from small, medium, and heavy industries (including power generation) 36,650 40,800 3,700 3,250 128,650 50,000 12,000 18,300
Dust emissions from road re-suspension and construction activities 2,950 18,500 ------
Open waste burning emissions 1,350 1,400 10080050 6,450 1,300 50
Diesel generator set emissions400450200150 2,850 9,050 4,100 50
Brick kiln emissions (not included in the industrial emissions)--------
48,700 65,000 5,400 6,700 182,100 188,850 39,500 41,250

Chemical Transport Modeling

We calculated the ambient PM2.5 concentrations and the source contributions, using gridded emissions inventory, 3D meteorological data (from WRF), and the CAMx regional chemical transport model. The model simulates concentrations at 0.01° grid resolution and sector contributions for the urban area, which include contributions from primary emissions, secondary sources via chemical reactions, and long range transport via boundary conditions (represented as “boundary” in the pie graph below).

visakhapatnam PM2.5 Monthly variations visakhapatnam PM2.5 Monthly variations

The ribbon graph shows the variation for average PM2.5 pollution by month. Due to precipitation during the monsoon, usually pollution levels dip and may fall within national air pollution standards, however most cities are unable to attain these standards at other times of the year. We consolidated all the PM2.5 data from the continuous monitoring stations operating within the modeling domain, for the period of 2018-19 and compared against the model results. The scatter plot presents a comparison of 24-hr average PM2.5 concentrations by month. Modeled data is for the urban parts of the city.

The following is a map of annual average PM2.5 pollution for the city of Visakhapatnam. The main sources contributing towards PM2.5 in 2018 are in the pie-chart on the left. The change in contributions in 2030 from different sources are shown on the right.

Visakhapatnam PM2.5 Source Contributions Visakhapatnam Ambient PM2.5 Concentrations Visakhapatnam PM2.5 Source Contributions

There is a temporal variation in source contributions and spatial contributions depending on meteorological factors. We have a map of monthly average PM2.5 levels as well as their source contributions for every month in the charts below.

Visakhapatnam PM2.5 Monthly Concentrations Visakhapatnam PM2.5 Source Apportionment

Satellite Data Derived Surface PM2.5 Concentrations

The results of satellite data derived concentrations are useful for evaluating annual trends in pollution levels and are not a proxy for on-ground monitoring networks. This data is estimated using satellite feeds and global chemical transport models. Satellites are not measuring one location all the time, instead, a combination of satellites provide a cache of measurements that are interpreted using global chemical transport models (GEOS-Chem) to represent the vertical mix of pollution and estimate ground-based concentrations with the help of previous ground-based measurements. The global transport models rely on gridded emission estimates for multiple sectors to establish a relationship with satellite observations over multiple years. These databases were also used to study the global burden of disease, which estimated air pollution as the top 10 causes of premature mortality and morbidity in India. A summary of PM2.5 concentrations for the period of 1998 to 2016 for the city of Visakhapatnam is presented below. The global PM2.5 files are available for download and further analysis @ Dalhousie University.

The graphs for other district PM2.5 concentrations for this period, maps of national averages, and year-wise changes are available here. The data for district level PM2.5 concentrations for 1998-2016 period for can downloaded here.


We present below a summary of the ambient monitoring data available under the National Ambient Monitoring Program (NAMP), operated and maintained by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB, New Delhi, India). In Visakhapatnam, as of November 2018, there are 0 continuous and 2 manual air quality stations in operation. An archive of all the data from the NAMP network from stations across India for the period of 2011-2015 is available here.

PM2.5 Source Contributions Ambient PM2.5 Concentrations PM2.5 Source Contributions

Real time PM2.5 pollution levels in and around the city of Visakhapatnam

Resource Material

  • CPCB repository of continuous air monitoring data (Link)
  • CPCB List of non-attainment cities (Link)
  • Ambient Air Quality Data, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (Link)
  • Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (Link)
  • Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region – Zonal Development Plan 2021, Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (Link)
  • Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Economic Sector for the year ended March 2014: Government of Andhra Pradesh, Report No. 2 of 2015. Pages 4 – 5, 11 – 36 (Link)
  • “Action Plan for Critically polluted and Severely polluted cities i.e.,  Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh”, Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board. (2019) (Link)
  • Visakhapatnam Smart City Proposal (Link)
  • “Particulate and gaseous emissions in two coastal cities—Chennai and Vishakhapatnam, India”, Guttikunda, S. et. al. (2014) (Journal Article Link)
  • “Chemical characterization of atmospheric particulate matter and their source apportionment at an emerging industrial coastal city, Visakhapatnam, India”, Police, S. (2016) (Journal Article Link)

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