BAD KARMA

Postcards from the world’s most polluted city

Quartz india
Quartz india

Delhi’s winter is on its way out, and the sky—usually blanketed by fog brought about by the capital’s worrying levels of pollution—is regaining clarity.

Year after year, New Delhi grapples with dramatically worsening fog. Due to urbanisation and consequent increase in the levels of air pollution, fog days in winters have gone up in the last century.

The level of PM2.5 in Delhi—tiny, toxic particles that cause severe respiratory diseases—is the highest in the world. In May 2014, a study by the World Health Organisation ranked Delhi as the most polluted city on the planet.

The city’s air has become so toxic that US president Barack Obama’s recent three-day visit to the capital reportedly shortened his expected lifespan by six hours.

Following pictures of Delhi, some of them taken at the city’s iconic monuments, show how its 16 million inhabitants live with the world’s worst air.

An Indian woman prays in the river Yamuna on a cold foggy morning in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Cold wave conditions intensified across northern India as temperatures dipped along with thick blankets of fog cutting out sunlight for long hours. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
A woman prays in the river Yamuna on a cold foggy morning in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Passengers crowd atop a train as they travel on a cold winter morning at a railway station in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of New Delhi December 29, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT TRANSPORT)
Passengers crowd atop a train as they travel on a cold winter morning at a railway station in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of New Delhi. (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee)
In this Monday, Dec. 29, 2014 photo, a commuter waits near a bus stop amidst morning fog, in New Delhi, India. Cold wave continues unabated in the northern region with fog enveloping most areas and affecting transport services. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A commuter waits near a bus stop amidst morning fog in New Delhi. In December, fog enveloped most areas and affected transport services. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Indian soldiers are silhouetted against a traffic signal light as they prepare to rehearse for the Republic Day parade on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi January 8, 2015. India will celebrate its annual Republic Day on January 26. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA - Tags: ANNIVERSARY MILITARY POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY ENVIRONMENT)
Indian soldiers are silhouetted against a traffic signal light as they prepare to rehearse for the Republic Day parade on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)
In this Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 photo, an Indian man exercises as fog envelops a park in New Delhi, India. Cold wave conditions intensified across northern India as temperatures dipped along with thick blankets of fog cutting out sunlight for long hours. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
A man exercises as fog envelops a park in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
In this Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 photo, commuters make their way amidst morning fog, in New Delhi, India. Cold wave swept across large parts of north India as fog disrupted road, rail and air traffic in a few areas. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Commuters make their way amidst morning fog in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Commuters walk along the road on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)
Commuters walk along the road on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi. (Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
A person walks to his office amidst morning fog, in New Delhi, India, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. Cold wave swept across large parts of north India as fog disrupted road, rail and air traffic in a few areas. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
A person walks to his office amidst morning fog in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
An Indian man exercises in a park on a cold foggy morning in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014. Cold wave conditions continues unabated in the northern region with fog enveloping most areas and affecting transport services. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
A man exercises in a park on a cold foggy morning in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
An Indian paramilitary force soldier watches army soldiers rehearse for the Republic Day parade amidst morning fog at India Gate, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
An Indian paramilitary force soldier watches army soldiers rehearse for the Republic Day parade amidst morning fog at India Gate, in New Delhi. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Indian soldiers walk before the start of their rehearsal for the Republic Day parade on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi January 16, 2015. India will celebrate its annual Republic Day on January 26. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood (INDIA - Tags: MILITARY ANNIVERSARY ENVIRONMENT)
Indian soldiers walk before the start of their rehearsal for the Republic Day parade on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi. (Reuters/Ahmad Masood)
An India's Border Security Force (BSF) "Daredevils" motorcycle rider performs during a rehearsal for the Republic Day parade on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi January 8, 2015. India will celebrate its annual Republic Day on January 26. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
An India’s Border Security Force “Daredevils” motorcycle rider performs during a rehearsal for the Republic Day parade on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

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