A large part of the world has been under lockdown enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19. No doubt, the prolonged lockdown has trigged negative implications for economy. But, on the other hand, it has also considerable positive impacts on ecology. It has saved nature and helped to sustain a healthy environment. Of late, the government of Nepal has further extended the period of lockdown until June 14. The world has more than 6 million plus COVID-19 cases, more than 3 lakh and sixty-one thousand plus deaths, over 2.7 million recovered cases. Nepal has reported around 1,800 coronavirus cases and eight deaths, with 220 infected persons discharging from various hospitals.
Adverse impact The extended lockdown has adverse impacts on almost all sectors - tourism, trade, economy, agriculture and education, to name a few. It has crippled the business sector. Thousands of people are going to lose their jobs. Many firms have been shut down as they have tough times to pay the rents and repay the loans. The daily wage workers are struggling to get by their living. In many places, the paddy fields are barren. The factories are closed. The nurses, doctors, pharmacists, cleaners and grocery shopkeepers are in the danger of getting infected with the virus. The children are uncertain about their schools. The schools are struggling to access every child for online classes. The projected GDP growth will significantly go down. More people will fall below the poverty line. The remittance and foreign employment sectors are likely to witness the grim days ahead. The foreign reserves are going to fall short. The “Visit Nepal 2020,” which had set a target to bring in home 2 million tourists, has been postponed. The development projects are in disarray. The production in the agriculture sector has markedly gone down. However, the ecology of lockdown unfolds a different story. The other side of COVID-19 is its beauty beyond business. Your eyes could see the beauty of lush green nature. The air is healthy and so is the environment. Birds chirp. The sky is blue. The sun is sunny. No traffic jams. No horns. No cloud of black smoke billowing from old and rickety vehicles. No suffocation. No litter on the roads. This time the people wear masks to avoid the coronavirus but not to evade inhaling the cloud of dust. The road mishaps have considerably declined and so have the untimely deaths due to road accidents. Lockdown has encouraged living things to healthy growing of nature and natural life. All the living things share this world and has right to live. The planet is shared and common habitat of all the living things. So, it elicits a lesson of reducing encroachment upon nature and shift in anthropocentric view. According to the BBC reports, the COVID-19 lockdown has cut climate change emissions worldwide. The significant drop in traffic has helped to reduce the planet-warming CO2 emissions globally. However, temporary falls in carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, they have markedly improved air quality and reduced the risks of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases like asthma, heart attacks and lung disease. In Nepal too, the lockdown has made the surrounding green by receding the traffic and giving the nature to breathe in. The research suggests that the positive impacts of natural world on mental health due to lockdown. Connecting ourselves with nature can help make us happier, energetic and more vibrant offering us a sense of meaning and purpose in life. It also helps us do our tasks anew and afresh. Ecology and environment is vital to the universe, human and animal lives. The public health largely hinges on the health of our planet. The grim picture of widespread and rampant pollution levels with exhaustive fumes of oil, coal and other forms of non-renewable energy. Nature and natural habitats are inevitable to build our planet a safer place to live in. The lockdown has ameliorated the air quality to a great extent. It is obvious that human activities have made irreversible damage on the planet. There is a pressing need to accelerate the green environment by reducing air polluting means. Under the menace of the pandemic, confinement, social isolation, economic fallout and unemployment are the burgeoning issues at present. Depression, distress, anxiety, and mental health disorder are on the rise. The crisis has posed a serious mental health problem. Amidst these drawbacks of social isolation, it edifies us to act together to save the earth. The traditional healing therapies are being revived. Time has taught us that yoga and meditation definitely work for sound body and mind. It brings peace and solace in the times of crisis. It gives us extra power to fight the challenges and adversities like the COVID-19 pandemic. Yoga and meditation significantly help to get rid of respiratory problems to a large extent.
New beginning The Asian consumption of spices, turmeric, ginger and garlic in the cuisine is beneficially helpful to boost up human immunity. They help us to fight diseases. These ancient Ayurveda lifestyles are critically important for good health and wellbeing. The western countries have started to realise and assimilate them. The world is at a war stage - sooner or later, the researchers and scientists will discover the panacea of this deadly coronavirus outbreak. Nevertheless, the civilisations have always propelled ahead through liaison, constructive methods and harmonious relationship with nature. The advances in science and technology augment a threat to plants and animal kingdom and no doubt human beings, too. Putting the competition race of material prosperity aside, it is fairly vital to sow the seeds of humanity, cooperation and interrelationship with nature. All we can do is to let the dust settle. All we can do is to hope for a new beginning: back to nature for a sustainable world.
(The author is a section officer at the Department of Money Laundering Investigation, Government of Nepal.)