Filmed and produced by Jyotsna Singh. Edited by Tom Griggs. Footage by Reuters
India Gate, Delhi's famous memorial to the soldiers who died in the first world war. It's late afternoon in mid-November, and this place is teeming with tourists, keen to get a glimpse of the famous memorial, but usually also to soak up some sun in one of the parks nearby. Today, however, as the capital city chokes under some of the worst pollution it's seen in years, you have to get within a range of a couple of hundred metres even to see the archway, and the sun is nowhere to be seen.
The beginning of this week, smoke from crop burning in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana blew over much of North India, sending the levels of tiny harmful particulates in the air literally off the charts. With Delhi under a blanket of smog, The Indian Medical Association declared the city in a state of public health emergency.
IMA declares Delhi in a public health emergency state. Schools should be closed down. People should not step out of their homes, especially the elderly, pregnant ladies, children, heart and asthma patients. The others should also take necessary precautions.
Local residents, who suffered similar conditions last year, say the pollution is taking a toll on their health.
It has become difficult to breathe. Some say they have irritation in their eyes, while others complain of suffocation. The situation has become worse than it was before.
Meanwhile, those visiting the city from elsewhere have had their holidays ruined.
I have brought my children here and they are also experiencing breathing problems. We have come to see the Rahstrapati Bhawan, but it's been half an hour and we have not been able to see anything. It is due to the pollution.
After several days of thick smog, the Delhi government on Thursday announced a series of mitigating actions, including shutting down public schools and reintroducing a scheme which only allows cars to drive on the roads on alternate days. Doctors, however, are warning the damage may already have been done.
Smog will lead to more chances of breathing difficulty, cough, chest tightness. People with underlying asthma will have worsening of symptoms, and they will need to take more medication. People with heart failure or heart problems will have worsening of their heart disease, and there will be an increasing number of people coming to emergency with respiratory failure because of high levels of pollution.
For now, there is little that Delhi-ites can do except sit indoors and hope that the wind changes direction soon.