New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, is witnessing something that has been missing for thirty years: a beautiful blue sky and a clear view of the distant Himalayas.
Due to the current worldwide emergency, India is seeing very few cars on the street, closed factories, pollution reduced to a minimum, almost no active construction sites. So the Indian megalopolis of New Delhi literally gets a breath of fresh air giving and the forgotten beauty of a clean sky.
Stars are once again visible at night. According to the residents, during the day the air is so clear that you can savor it without its usual smoky metallic aftertaste. This is one of the few positive aspects of the coronavirus: the world has been forced to stop and lockdowns are lightening the pollution load.
The elderly residents of Delhi who remember the distant past confirm that the air has not been so clean for decades.
“I look at the sky quite often and enjoy its blueness from my balcony,” said Sudhir Kumar Bose, 80, a retired English professor, ““I don’t know how long this will last,” he added. “But right now I feel much better.”
This rare gift has been seen also in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Ghaziabad. Many other places in the world are also witnessing the same thing, from Milan to Los Angeles, from New York to Beijing.
Last year India was ranked as one of the worst polluted countries, hosting 14 of the 20 cities with the worst air quality. Delhi is among them, but last week it recorded a much lower index, comparable to that of other cities in the world.
The difference is not perceived only by the eyes but also by the other senses. People with respiratory diseases are also benefiting from it:
“My old patients say they can’t believe it,” said Dr. Arvind Kumar, a Delhi chest surgeon who has been studying the consequences of living in a place with bad air. “They are feeling lighter, they are using their inhalers less frequently, most of them are feeling better.”
A month ago, it seemed impossible to think that the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas could be admired by Indian cities 200 km away.
Some people joked that they could see Canada from the state of Punjab, others added that the air was so clear that they would soon be able to see God. Irony aside, some residents of northern India are fortunate enough to to be able to see the Himalayas full of snow for the first time in 30 years.
Charming, surprising, massive. Positive comments and the photos on social media are numerous.