India imposed a national lockdown nearly two weeks ago to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, enforced by police. But, in New Delhi, the world's most polluted city, the shuttered economy has cleared away air pollution and made way for blue skies.
WGBH News Analyst Charlie Sennott joined Boston Public Radio on Monday to talk through the complicated and often chaotic implication of enforced social distancing.
"Think of a country as large as India, the world's largest democracy, in a lockdown," he said. "It's impossible for me to fathom. We talked about how brutal the police state in India was, in forcing people into lockdown ... but out of this incredibly pressure on this very poor country, comes this beautiful blue sky.
"When you stop all work, close the factories, stop all the trucking on the highways, start to really take the industry out of this incredibly packed and busy country, what happens is the pollution lifts. We see pollution levels in New Delhi that's better than they've ever been."
According to an article inThe Guardian, the air quality index levels in Delhi usually sit at a severe 200, and even soared to 900 at some points last year — anything above 25 is deemed unsafe by the World Health Organization -- but during the lockdown, AQI levels have again fallen below 20.
Charlie Sennott also heads up the Groundtruth Project at WGBH.