As the national lockdown caused by coronavirus plunging pollution levels, the Himalayas can be seen in parts of India and Pakistan for the first time in decades. For the first time in 30 years, snow-covered Dhauladhar mountain range has become visible to locals.
For many residents, the sight which translates to “White Range” is something they have never witnessed in their entire lives. The feelings that people couldn’t hide shared on social media, including former Indian cricket player Harbhajan Singh, who wrote:
“Never seen Dhauladar range from my home rooftop in Jalandhar. Never could imagine that’s possible. A clear indication of the impact the pollution has done by us to mother earth.”
India, a country with upwards of 1.3 billion residents, has been placed under a strict nationwide lockdown from March 22 until at least April 14. The strict move limits the movement of the entire population and has been criticized by rights groups as well as figures from private industry who claim that the measure is arbitrary and damages the country and its economy.
On Tuesday, the Economic Times published an opinion piece by auto company executive Rajiv Bajaj arguing that “virtually no country has imposed such a sweeping lockdown as India has; I continue to believe this makes India weak rather than stronger in combating the epidemic.”
However, the lockdown—which shut down factories, marketplaces, small shops, places of worship, most public transportation and construction projects—has also provided a temporary respite from the suffocating pollution levels India is known for. No less than 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in the South Asian giant.
Anti-pollution activist Sant Balbir Singh Seeechewal told SBS:
“We can see the snow-covered mountains clearly from our roofs. And not just that, stars are visible at night. I have never seen anything like this in recent times. Not just normal traffic is off the roads, but most industry is also shut down. This has helped bring the pollution level to unbelievably low levels.”