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Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
In the thick of it.
1000 WORDS

As the world discusses climate change in Paris, this is the hazardous smog engulfing New Delhi

By Manu Balachandran

On Dec. 1, as talks on climate change entered their second day in Paris, the Indian capital of New Delhi was enveloped in thick smog.

The air quality index in the city rose to 372, putting Delhi’s air in the hazardous category, according to the US embassy’s monitoring station. Visibility in the city was down to about 200 yards after the thick smog set in.

Much of the heavy smog that has inundated the city since early November is due to the increased usage of coal fire to fight the onset of winter and the burning of paddy straw at farms in adjoining states.

But historic data indicates a long, troubling trend. Versus just one fog day in 1951, New Delhi sees in excess of 70 fog days annually during winter, largely due to rapid urbanization.

Here is how New Delhi has looked since early November, when the smog set in:

Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
A man rides his bicycle next to Indian soldiers marching in front of India Gate on Dec. 1.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Boys look for recyclable items in the waters of river Yamuna on Dec. 1.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
High tension electric pylons are pictured on a smoggy day Nov. 30 in New Delhi.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Laborers work at the construction site of a bridge being built for metro rail on the banks of river Yamuna, on Nov. 30.
Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Domesticated camels are tied on the banks of river Yamuna, on Nov. 30.
AP Photo/Saurabh Das
India Gate, one of the landmarks of central Delhi, is barely visible through thick smog in New Delhi on Nov. 9.
(AP Photo /Tsering Topgyal)
A participant wears a mask as he runs during the Delhi Half Marathon on Nov. 29.
AP Photo /Tsering Topgyal
A participant wears a mask as she runs during Delhi Half Marathon in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015.
AP Photo/Saurabh Das
An Indian woman walks through a smog-enveloped field in the outskirts of New Delhi on Nov. 10.
AP Photo/Altaf Qadri
This two-picture combo shows a fairly clear skyline, top, a day before the Diwali festival in New Delhi, on Nov. 11, and a smoggy skyline after the festival, on Nov. 12.
AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal
A bird flies on a smog-filled morning on Nov. 11.
EPA/Harish Tyagi
A night scene showing residential apartments surrounded by smog on Nov. 15.