Himalayas seen for first time in decades from 125 miles away after pollution drop

Louise Boyle
Sunlight illuminating the rugged peaks of the Kangchenjunga Mountain Range, a part of the Great Himalaya Range Sikkim, India: Rex Features

The Himalayas can be seen from parts of India for the first time in 30 years after pollution dropped due to the coronavirus lockdown.

In areas of the state of Punjab in northern India, residents posted pictures of the mountain range from around 125 miles away after the peaks came back into view when the air cleared.

India’s population of 1.4bn is under a 21-day lockdown to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, shuttering factories and clearing traffic from the streets.

The reduction in smog led to a flurry of photos hitting social media from surprised citizens.

Former Indian cricketer, Harbhajan Singh, tweeted a view of the Dhauladar range from his rooftop in Jalandhar.

“Never could imagine that’s possible.. clear indication of the impact pollution has done by us to Mother Earth..” he tweeted.

Another resident posted: “What nature really is and how we screwed it up. This is Dhauladhar mountain range of Himachal, visible after 30 yrs, from Jalandhar (Punjab) after pollution drops to its lowest level. This is approx. 200 km away straight. #Lockdown21 #MotherNature #Global healing.”

India’s Central Pollution Control Board said in a report that the lockdown had resulted in a significant improvement in air quality.

The India Today Data Intelligence Unit found the air quality index improved by an average of 33 per cent in the country between 16-27 March, SBS Hindi reported.

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

In India, an estimated 1.5 million people died from the effects of air pollution in 2012, according to WHO data.

The World Health Organisation has documented 149 deaths from the coronavirus in India and more than 5,000 cases have been confirmed.

Satellite images last month showed a declined in pollution over some European and American cities after coronavirus lockdowns came into effect.

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The data showed nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations dropped between 10 March and 22 March, compared to the same period last year.

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