Choked: Virus and toxic air strangle Delhi
On the morning of November 11, the city of Delhi was enveloped in a thick layer of smog, eclipsing the skies and reducing visibility. It was the seventh consecutive day of the city's air quality levels breaching the 'severe' mark, showing the air contained alarming levels of toxic pollutants.
Fortune India travelled across the city to document human lives caught in the throes of the pandemic, on one hand, and toxic, unbreathable air, on the other.
With Air Quality Index reading of 476, Delhi-NCR pollution level continued to be severe for 48 hours at a stretch on Tuesday, November 10.
The iconic India Gate is barely visible, as a thick pall of toxic air continues to engulf New Delhi.
The rising air pollution has also led to calls from within the Delhi government to bring back the Odd-Even road rationing scheme, in an effort to reduce road traffic, and direct people to use public transport.
Rising levels of pollution have also affected the city's water bodies, with reports highlighting how toxic chemicals, such as ammonia, have begun to accumulate on the surface of rivers like the Yamuna.
Although the Delhi government had implemented the Odd-Even traffic rationing scheme in earlier years, this year the Covid-19 pandemic has added an extra layer of complexity.
National Capital Region areas, such as Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, and Gurugram were also severely hit by the rising air pollution.
Winter months are usually the time when the city's air quality is badly hit. Experts believe one of the primary contributors to this worsening air pollution is farmers burning stubble in the adjoining states, such as in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
With the imposition of the national lockdown, earlier this year, pollution in the city had all but disappeared. But it came back with a vengeance as the country opened up and traffic was back on the streets.
The iconic Akshardham temple in the eastern part of Delhi is barely visible, as smog gathers around it.
On Tuesday morning, the city's AQI index was parked at 735, a new record this season, indicating the pollution level to be 'severe.' Along with rising Covid-19 cases in Delhi, it has alarmed both the city's inhabitants as well as government officials.