Deepkamal Kaur and Aparna Banerji
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, April 3
The Jalandhar residents woke up to a phenomenon, which most people said they had seen for the first time in their lives.
Perhaps, because of cleaner air, because of negligible traffic, and factories that are not working owing to the 11 days of the curfew imposed to check the spread of coronavirus, the residents could now see the snow-clad Himalayan ranges.
People could see the view from their rooftops with naked eyes, which could be of Dhauladhar range from Kangra area in the adjoining state of Himachal Pradesh.
While the Dhualdhar’s mountain ranges lies at a distance of 213 kilometers from Jalandhar—the towns like Chintpurni and Palampur are at a distance of 92.3 km and 174.8 km, respectively from Jalandhar.
Greeted by the spectacle – residents took to their roofs clicking photographs and videos of the mountains.
Some termed it a miracle of nature.
Around noon, the residents began sharing the pictures and selfies of this rare scene on social media.
Several of them went live on Facebook to share their excitement. Those who had DSLR cameras had an option to take sharper views.
The residents of Hoshiarpur had already been posting pictures of snow-capped mountain ranges for the past few days, but such a sight was visible from Jalandhar on Friday as perhaps the atmosphere became clearer.
As families began climbing up on rooftops to gaze at the first-in-a-lifetime scene, some elderly women were seen worshipping the skies with folded hands and muttering: “When we could not go to shrines like Chintpurni, Jwala Ji and Chamanda Devi during Navratras, God has enabled us to pay obeisance to the Goddesses from here and offer our prayers sitting at home”.
Harpal Kler, a resident of Jalandhar, said, “As I set out from home early this morning and started on Pathankot highway, I could see the entire range of snow-covered mountains in front of me. It gave me such a nice break from the otherwise monotonous routine these days.”
Kler, who runs a bio-medical laboratory in the city, added, “It is for the first time these days that I could wear a white shirt for two consecutive days to work and not get even a speck of dust on it. Even my wife laughed saying she did not have to scrub the collars. I really feel that we must have a 10-day lockdown in the country to breathe easy and enjoy some whiff of fresh air”.
Harbir Singh, Senior Environment Engineer, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Jalandhar, said: “Since our offices and machinery are shut these days and staff is not coming to work, we cannot share any AQI values. Several people have been sharing pictures of the view from their places with me since morning and it surely is a rare view because of cleaner air.”
Elderly residents said it was almost after a generation that the mountains have been visible in the city.
Amarjit Singh, a resident of Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar, said, “Our elders said they used to see mountains from the rooftop. But we have never witnessed this spectacle in our life. It is a magical sight for us. At least in my life, I have never seen such a view from our rooftops. It goes to show that if a month of restraining can ensure such a view then we must make it a habit of exercising environmental restraint.”
Social media was also flooded with photographs of eager residents sharing snow-covered peaks from their houses, rooftops and terraces.
Senior Environmental Engineer, PPCB Jalandhar, Harbir Singh said, “The lockdown has dramatically improved the air quality in the city. We can see that restricted traffic, as well as restricted activity in the industries emitting pollutants into the air, can work wonders for the environment. Normally, the movement of traffic, dust levels and the generation of industrial emissions are so high that it takes a toll on the air quality. Amidst the COVID lockdown, this has been made possible providing a much-needed break for the environment. The lessons we can take away from this is that if industrial and traffic activity is regulated – the environment begins to breathe.”
Dr Rajinder Kaur, Associate Professor, Environmental Science, Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar, said, “The dramatic dip in air pollution is brought in with the lockdown. At homes and on our rooftops to we see an increased variety of birds od rare breeds which were previously not being seen. The visibility of stars in the sky has also increased to a level we used to see only in our childhood. While the lockdown like conditions isn’t feasible for development and economy – taking a cue from this – the strict implementation of environmental, traffic and industry regulation laws, however, can ease the environment greatly even after the lockdown.”
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