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Himalaya range revealed as COVID-19 shutdown drives down air pollution

Saturday, April 4th 2020, 5:38 pm - The view of the Himalayan mountain chain's Dhauladhar range is a rarity in country with a documented air quality problem.

With most countries experiencing some kind of lockdown or closure of services in an attempt to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control, most industry is shut down, and millions of cars are off the road.

That's had the effect of clearing the skies and measurably reducing air pollution, including in Canada (most fancifully, clear water in the canals of Venice made headlines worldwide).

The latest striking effect of the drastic improvement in air quality comes from northern India, where people in the country's Punjab state report seeing -- many for the first time -- a crystal-clear view of part of Himalayas mountain chain.

Specifically, the Dhauladhar range of the chain, which wowed residents of Jalandhar on Friday, many of whom took to social media to share their best shots, according to the Hindustan Times.

It's not clear when the last time the air was clear enough in the region to reveal with mountains (the Times says it's been decades), but it was enough to send many onlookers commenting on the effect pollution has had on their legendary natural beauty.

India grapples with some of the worst air pollution in the world. In 2019, Indian cities made up 21 of the top 30 cities with the world's worst air quality, according to an analysis by air quality monitoring and data company IQAir.

In 2019, a Lancet study suggested poor air quality claimed some 1.24 million lives in India in 2017, 12.5 per cent of all deaths in the country that year.

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