New Delhi residents, who are consistently identified as one of the most polluted cities in the world, are revelling in azure skies and clean air due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The drastic change was brought about by a shortage of cars on New Delhi highways, shuttered factories and construction stoppage after a nationwide lockdown on March 24 ordered to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
“We’ve never really experienced clean air like this,” said Anumita Roy of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.
“This is an amazing experience, but we must capitalize and learn from this,” she told.
India’s Central Pollution Control Board and other monitors have all registered a significant decrease in the Indian capital’s pollution levels — as well as other major cities.
On Wednesday, World Earth Day, PM2.5 particulate levels — the most harmful for human health — were “satisfactory,” a far cry from days when the limits were approved 20 or 30 times.
“It is like the Delhi of 20 or 30 years ago,” said Krishna Singh, a government worker.
“It is such a shame we are barely allowed to go out to enjoy this.”
Many parts of the vast country have experienced significant variations in air quality.
In nearby Punjab state, Jalandhar residents have posted photographs of the Himalayan peaks on social media that had been obscured by haze and pollution for decades.
“I am glad in some ways people have understood the value of clean air and I hope this will create a public stake to maintain it.”
Meanwhile, a state agency said the water quality of the revered Ganges river had also greatly improved since the lockdown in Uttarakhand state started.
“What the pandemic is telling us is that we have to raise the level… of our compliance and implementation of our clean air programmes,” Chowdhury said.