We have been asked by readers to check a claim made by Lorraine Kelly that before and after photos from northern India showed how pollution reduced due to the lockdown, with the Himalayas visible in the “after” shot.
In the viral clip, she says: “We’re seeing the Himalayas before and after. Before people in Pakistan [sic] couldn’t see them. You can see the split-screen there. That was before when it was just like smog basically, and then look at that, crystal-clear views.”
One eagle-eyed viewer spotted that in both photos two men appear in the same positions and wearing the same clothing, casting doubt that the images were genuine.
The “after” photo, showing the Himalayas visible from the city of Jalandhar in Punjab, northern India, is genuine and was taken by photographer Anshul Chopra.
The “before” photo is the same image, but with the sky and Himalayas edited and blurred to show an illustration of what the skyline might have looked like before lockdown.
The fact that the after picture has been edited is made quite clear in the documentary being discussed on Lorraine, called ‘The Year Earth Changed’ on Apple TV.
In the documentary, Mr Chopra describes how he took the photo showing the Himalayas, and then you see the edited “before” image fade into the real “after” image. There’s no suggestion that the first is a genuine “before” shot.
There is also statistical evidence that the first national lockdown in India, which started on 24 March 2020, led to significant improvements in air quality and visibility.
Ms Kelly also talked about how the photos showed how “before people in Pakistan couldn’t see [the Himalayas].”