Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adji, Jakarta – Thick smog blanketing Jakarta is a thing of the past – for now – as clearer skies have been reported following weeks of physical distancing measures, so clear that even two mountains in the neighboring regions appear, mesmerizing residents.
Netizens have reported that Mount Gede Pangrango in Bogor and Mount Salak in Sukabumi, both West Java, are visible from the city, weeks after calls for people to stay at home amid mobility restrictions to cut the spread of COVID-19.
"Jakarta, during the coronavirus pandemic. Mount Salak can be seen from Jakarta. Jakarta is wonderful," Twitter user @thenorthboys_ posted recently, showing a picture of the mountain clearly visible from the city's landscape.
It is a rare sighting for residents to witness Mount Gede, located around 63 kilometers away, and Mount Salak, some 57 km away, from the capital, as Jakarta's notorious air pollution usually gets in residents' way to enjoy a clear blue sky.
Twitter user @AriestaRiico posted 51 seconds of footage showing the two mountains clearly visible from where he took the video.
The Jakarta Environment Agency reported that the air quality has improved since March 23, when the city ordered physical distancing, urged offices to suspend operations and limited public transportation as part of COVID-19 emergency measures. On April 10, the city officially started large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), putting in place stricter social distancing rules for two weeks.
Environmental group Walhi national executive director Nur Hidayati said the two mountains could actually be a regular sighting for residents if only Jakarta's air pollution were lower.
"The mountains can actually be seen when the air is clear, it's just that Jakarta's air is polluted every day, so this has become somewhat phenomenal," Nur said on Tuesday.
She added that recent rainfall and the wind had also carried away some of the pollution particles in the capital, which was commonly caused by emissions from vehicles, factories and power plants.
"Does a pandemic have to occur [for Jakarta's air to be this clean]?" Nur said.
The Jakarta Environment Agency reported that, based on the agency's data, the concentration of PM2.5 particulate matter, inhalable pollutant particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, was below 40 micrograms per cubic meter on March 26, down from more than 60 mcg/cbm on March 19. (mfp)