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Photos: Indian Residents Snap Clear Shots of Himalayas as Air Quality Improves Amid Lockdown

CC0 / / Himalayas
Himalayas - Sputnik International
Residents in Punjab, India, are claiming they can see parts of the Himalayas, the mountain range in Asia separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau, more clearly due to improved air quality amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Residents shared photos of the Himalayas taken from their homes on Twitter this week, claiming that they can finally see the mountain range thanks to the lockdown.

​A report by India’s Central Pollution Board said that the nationwide lockdown since March 24 has resulted in a “significant improvement in air quality in the country, as revealed by data analysis and comparison of data for time before enforcement of restrictions.”

The report also explains that 85 Indian cities have seen significantly improved air quality, as nonessential businesses have remained closed, and people aren’t using their vehicles as much. 

​"Data shows that on average, Indian cities had an AQI [Air Quality Index] of 115 between March 16 and 24 … The air quality started showing improvements from the first day of the 21-day lockdown. The average AQI fell to 75 in the first three days of the lockdown,” the report explains.

​Other Indian residents have also commented on how slowing down the economy amid the lockdown has improved air quality. “The low AQI and blue skies prove beyond doubt that a lot of the air pollution” is caused by human activity, Jyoti Pande Lavakare, co-founder of the Indian environmental organization Care For Air, is quoted as recently telling Bloomberg.

“Obviously slowing down the economy to such a degree isn’t the ideal way of bringing down air pollution but at least it proves that it can be done, if the intention is there.”

​Pollution has long been an issue in India, which has a population of around 1.3 billion people. In November 2019, pollution levels were so high in the capital of New Delhi that its government banned around half of the city’s private cars from the roads. In addition, classes were temporarily canceled in New Delhi schools as authorities declared a public emergency.

​According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), particle pollution, also known as particulate matter, has been linked to eye irritation, throat irritation and developmental problems in babies once pregnant women give birth. Fine particulate matter that travels into the respiratory tract can also eventually affect lung health and aggravate conditions like asthma and heart disease. In addition, fine particulate matter exposure has been linked to chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and cardiovascular illnesses.
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