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Before-and-after photos show the dramatic effect lockdown is having on pollution in India

Before-and-after photos show the dramatic effect lockdown is having on pollution in India
  • India is home to some of the most polluted cities in the world.
  • When India imposed a countrywide lockdown on March 25, 2020, it encompassed 1.3 billion people, making it the world's largest lockdown.
  • With all those people at home, factories closed, air traffic down, and fewer cars and buses on the road, air pollution has visibly decreased.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

India has long struggled with pollution. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, in February, India was home to six out of 10 of the world's most polluted cities.

On March 25, when India ordered a since-extended 21-day lockdown amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, it created the world's largest lockdown, encompassing 1.3 billion people.

With that many people home, traffic is virtually nonexistent, factories are closed, and construction has come to a halt, leading to a noticeable reduction in smog and air pollution.

While the environment may be convalescing during the pandemic, experts don't think this will last. But, in the meantime, the short-term effects are pretty striking, as these before-and-after pictures show.

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AFTER: The Dhauladhar range is clearly visible during lockdown in Dharmsala.

AFTER: The Dhauladhar range is clearly visible during lockdown in Dharmsala.
Dharmsala on April 10, 2020. Manish Swarup/AP
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BEFORE: According to a previous Insider report, some parts of India saw the Himalayas for the first time in decades.

BEFORE: According to a previous Insider report, some parts of India saw the Himalayas for the first time in decades.
Kangra valley in Dharmsala on Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Ashwini Bhatia/AP

Source: Insider

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AFTER: According to The Guardian, a New Delhi resident described the air as "positively alpine!"

AFTER: According to The Guardian, a New Delhi resident described the air as "positively alpine!"
New Delhi road leading to the Presidential Palace on April 2, 2020. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

Source: The Guardian

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BEFORE: New Delhi's air is so polluted it can be seen from space, according to USA Today.

BEFORE: New Delhi's air is so polluted it can be seen from space, according to USA Today.
New Delhi road leading to the Presidential Palace on March 24, 2020. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

Source: USA Today

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AFTER: The lockdown will most likely be extended beyond its original 21 days, India Today reports.

AFTER: The lockdown will most likely be extended beyond its original 21 days, India Today reports.
New Delhi as seen from the Yamuna River on April 8, 2020. Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Source: India Today

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BEFORE: India imposed a countrywide lockdown on March 25. Encompassing 1.3 billion people, it is the world's largest lockdown, according to CNN.

BEFORE: India imposed a countrywide lockdown on March 25. Encompassing 1.3 billion people, it is the world's largest lockdown, according to CNN.
New Delhi as seen from the Yamuna River on March 21, 2018. Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Source: CNN

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AFTER: With the economy ground to a halt, Forbes writes that "the health cost could well be exceeded by the economic cost for India."

AFTER: With the economy ground to a halt, Forbes writes that "the health cost could well be exceeded by the economic cost for India."
Electricity pylons in New Delhi on April 13, 2020. Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Source: Forbes

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BEFORE: CNN reports that New Delhi's smog is primarily caused by transportation emissions, industry and power generation, and construction dust.

BEFORE: CNN reports that New Delhi's smog is primarily caused by transportation emissions, industry and power generation, and construction dust.
Electricity pylons in New Delhi on October 30, 2019. Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Source: CNN

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AFTER: "I look at the sky quite often and enjoy its blueness from my balcony," a retired English professor told The New York Times of the newly clear air.

AFTER: "I look at the sky quite often and enjoy its blueness from my balcony," a retired English professor told The New York Times of the newly clear air.
The India Gate war memorial in New Delhi on April 8, 2020. Anushree Fadnavis/Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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BEFORE: In 2019, CNN described the air pollution in India's capital as "a toxic, throat-searing cloud of brown smog."

BEFORE: In 2019, CNN described the air pollution in India's capital as "a toxic, throat-searing cloud of brown smog."
The India Gate war memorial in New Delhi on October 17, 2019. Anushree Fadnavis/Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Source: CNN

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AFTER: The Washington Post reports that India's "long-running battle with pollution may have rendered it particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus," citing Harvard research.

AFTER: The Washington Post reports that India's "long-running battle with pollution may have rendered it particularly vulnerable to the novel coronavirus," citing Harvard research.
New Delhi, India, on April 8, 2020. Anushree Fadnavis/Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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BEFORE: According to the World Economic Forum, air pollution alone kills 1.25 million people in India annually.

BEFORE: According to the World Economic Forum, air pollution alone kills 1.25 million people in India annually.
New Delhi, India, on November 8, 2018. Anushree Fadnavis/Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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AFTER: According to the Washington Post, air pollution in New Delhi dropped by almost 60% within just a few days of the beginning of the lockdown.

AFTER: According to the Washington Post, air pollution in New Delhi dropped by almost 60% within just a few days of the beginning of the lockdown.
The India Gate in New Delhi on April 20, 2020. Manish Swarup/AP
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BEFORE: Air quality in New Delhi was so bad that a public health emergency was declared in November 2019, CNN reports.

BEFORE: Air quality in New Delhi was so bad that a public health emergency was declared in November 2019, CNN reports.
The India Gate in New Delhi on October 28, 2019. Manish Swarup/AP

Source: CNN

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AFTER: Just one week into lockdown, NASA saw India's air pollution drop to a 20-year low.

AFTER: Just one week into lockdown, NASA saw India's air pollution drop to a 20-year low.
New Delhi, India, from above on April 20, 2020. Manish Swarup/AP

Source: NASA

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BEFORE: According to CNN, India is home to 21 of the world's 30 cities with the worst air pollution. New Delhi tops that list.

BEFORE: According to CNN, India is home to 21 of the world's 30 cities with the worst air pollution. New Delhi tops that list.
New Delhi, India, from above on November 1, 2019. Manish Swarup/AP

Source: CNN

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COVID-19IndiaCases: 767kDeaths: 21.1kRecovered: 476k
COVID-19WorldCases: 11.66MDeaths: 539kRecovered: 6.56M
COVID-19USACases: 2.92MDeaths: 129kRecovered: 953k