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Himalayas come into view for first time in 30 years in northern India as lockdown leads to drop in air pollution

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/04/2020 Imogen Braddick
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Some people in northern India are seeing the view of the Himalayan mountain range for the first time in their lives, thanks to a drop in air pollution caused by the country's coronavirus lockdown.

People living in Jalandhar in northern Punjab have been posting pictures of the mountains from rooftops and empty streets, amazed by the view which has been hidden by pollution for 30 years.

India, a bustling country of 1.3 billion people, has slowed to an uncharacteristic crawl, transforming ordinary scenes of daily life into a surreal landscape.

The nation is now under what has been described as the world's biggest lockdown, which started on March 25, designed to keep the virus from spreading and overwhelming India's healthcare system.

Health officials have confirmed more than 9,100 cases of the virus, including at least 308 deaths.

But a silver lining for the country and its residents has been the drop in air pollution, revealing new sights which were once cloaked in smog.

Indians took to social media to share their photos of the Himalayas, which have not been seen for 30 years in northern Punjab.

The mountain range is the world’s highest with elevations of up to 24,000ft and includes the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest.

Some posted clear photos of the mountains from more than 100 miles away, while others ​noted the "clear indication" of the impact of the country's pollution.

India typically records five times the safe limit for air quality set out by the World Health Organisation.

But the country's lockdown had resulted in a significant improvement in air quality, India's Central Pollution Control Board said.

India is set to extend the strict nationwide lockdown imposed last month, which shut factories, shops and places of worship, and halted all construction work.

An online post from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said the "extensive deliberations" with chief ministers had been fruitful and there "seems to be a consensus" to extend the lockdown measures by two weeks.

Gallery: Coronavirus turns the world into a ghost town (The Atlantic)


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