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Effects of India’s Coronavirus Lockdown: Clean Air and Drinkable Water

Apr 25, 2020 1:09 PM 2 min read

One month ago, India imposed the world’s largest lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic. As cities were shut down, planes grounded, factories closed and roads emptied, the skies became blue, air became cleaner and the rivers became transparent. For the first time in a long time, people reported seeing the Himalayas from as far away as Jalandhar, the Ganga’s waters became drinkable at Haridwar, and the Yamuna turned blue in Delhi.


The situation is similar elsewhere in the world, from the US to China. Satellites detected dramatic reductions in nitrogen dioxide levels over vast swathes of Eurasia, especially in urban areas. In Delhi, concentrations of the harmful gas have fallen by over 70%.


Air Pollution and COVID-19

An interesting point to note here is that air pollution itself can make COVID-19 more lethal.


Researchers from Harvard University analysed data on PM2.5 levels and COVID-19 deaths from about 3,000 US counties covering 98% of the U.S. Population. Counties that averaged just one microgram per cubic meter more PM2.5 in the air had a COVID-19 death rate that was 15% higher. Harmful particulate matter can induce respiratory and pulmonary disorders, which can easily be aggravated if the coronavirus enters your body, therefore increasinf coronavirus mortality rates.


After the Pandemic

India’s air is the most polluted in the world: on a list of the 20 most polluted cities, 14 are from India. Air pollution kills 1.2m Indians every year. The smog that clouds the country’s metros has adverse economic implications too.


The nationwide lockdown has no doubt had – and will continue to have – adverse economic implications. But for nature at least, it provided a significant breather. The tragedy is the we all know this is a temporary reprieve: once the lockdown is over and normalcy returns, so will the smog, the stench and the pollution.


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