Delhi is one of many capitals enjoying improved air quality since restrictions were introduced due to the coronavirus.
The screenshots began to circulate on Delhi WhatsApp groups last week, captioned with varying expressions of disbelief. Having checked the air quality index, something of a sadistic morning ritual among residents of India’s capital, most could not believe their eyes.
Gone was the familiar menacing red banner, indicating how each intake of breath is really just a toxic blast on the lungs, replaced instead by a healthy, cheerful green. Could it really be that Delhi’s pollution levels now fell into the category of … “good”? “It’s positively alpine!” exclaimed one message.
It is a lockdown silver lining being repeated across the world, as toxic megacities such as Bangkok, Beijing, São Paulo and Bogotá, where varying coronavirus restrictions have been imposed, all reported an unprecedented decline in pollution. Yet it is countered with one cruel irony: with most residents of these cities strictly confined to their homes, few have any way to appreciate this newly fresh air, except through an open window or a during speedy trip to the supermarket.