Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus on 24 March, many cities have noted a sharp drop in air pollution levels. The lockdown has meant no air traffic, trains, factory work, coal-burning power plants or traffic on the roads.
The effect of the reduction in toxic emissions is especially apparent in parts of North India where air pollution is a major issue. New Delhi recorded its AQI (Air Quality Index) at 95 last week, which was a big reduction from its monthly average of 161. For the first time in the past several years, the air quality in Punjab has improved drastically and most of its cities fall in the ‘green zone’ now.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, AQI is termed to be in the ‘dark green zone’ if it is between 0-50 and sees no impact on the environment, and anything between 51 and 100 is placed in the ‘light green zone’.
The 2019 World Air Quality Report, published in February 2020, stated that India was home to 14 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, but that number has now dropped to just two as on 7 April.
Himachal’s Dhauladhar visible from Punjab
Last week, people in Punjab’s Jalandhar noticed that they could see the Dhauladhar mountain range from their homes again, for the first time in decades. The Dhauladhar range is part of the Himalayan chain of mountains in Himachal Pradesh.
The Dhauladhar chain’s elevation ranges from 3,500 m to 6,000 m across Himachal. It curves towards Mandi from the banks of the Beas river in Kullu. The range also passes through Barabhangal towards the north and joins the Pir Panjal range and into Chamba.
Many Twitter users living in Jalandhar were stunned to see the Himalayas from their homes and took to the microblogging site to share pictures of the sight, marvelling at the impact of a few days of clean air.