India is under lockdown since 25 March – over 60 days now. For a country of 1.3 billion and with more than 100 million vehicles of all types, configurations, engines and fuel on roads, it is an incredible feat to keep everyone locked up at home for two months. Smoke sputtering trucks, three-wheelers and cars jostling for space on the streets have not been seen for a while. The entire transportation system of the country is on a pause. While the impact, costs, benefits and losses of lockdown would be a topic for debate for a long time, one thing is for sure – the environment has been the biggest beneficiary of this lockdown. Seeing pictures of the Himalayas visible from Saharanpur and Jalandhar to clean waters Ganga, the impact has been profound. Take the case of Clean Ganga mission – what could not be achieved after decades and spending thousands of crores, lockdown could do in six weeks.
The average AQI (air quality index) of Delhi was 360 in December 2018; in 2017, it was 450. Anything above 100 is considered dangerous for breathing.