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Amid Lockdown, Residents Gasp at Unexpected Sight

People in India say they can see Himalayas for first time in decades
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2020 8:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – On a clear day you can see forever—or, suddenly, the Himalayas, if you're a resident of northern India. The world's biggest lockdown due to the coronavirus started in India at the end of March, and everyone staying home in the nation of 1.3 billion people seems to have spurred one major change: There's been a big reduction in air pollution, per CNN. That in turn, has led some who live in Jalandhar, in the state of Punjab, to report an "amazing" sight: a sudden view of the country's famous mountain range more than 100 miles away, which some residents claim they haven't been able to see from the city in 30 or so years. "What nature really is and how we screwed it up," one commenter posted online alongside a photo showing a visible line of mountains that can be seen over the tops of buildings.

CNN notes that Jalandhar's air quality was rated "good" on India's National Air Quality Index for every day but one of the lockdown since it started; the same 17-day period in 2019 didn't offer up any "good" days. Snopes rates the news of the Himalayas sighting as being "mixed," noting that while it's clear that India has seen a decrease in air pollution as a result of the country's shutdown, it's not as clear whether the lockdown itself can claim responsibility for the better visibility. The myth-busting site notes that seasonal changes could have contributed, as smog is worse in the nation during the winter and starts to let up around this time of year. The site also notes that all it has is anecdotal evidence and that it can't find any scientific proof that residents of northern India haven't been able to see the Himalayas for three decades due to air pollution. (Read more India stories.)

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