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Heavy pollution, smog and toxic foam choke Indian capital of Delhi

·Associate Editor

For the Indian capital of Delhi, it's that smoggy time of the year again.

Air pollution levels have soared and thick, heavy, grey smog has enveloped the entire city once again. 

Indian authorities were forced to close schools indefinitely on Wednesday, after reports of a sharp increase in the number of children with breathing problems.

The city's air quality index has fallen into the "very poor" category, prompting the Indian Supreme Court to call for a city-wide lockdown and a halt to all non-essential travel by road.

The New Delhi government officials said they're "open to the idea" of instituting a lockdown but they believe it will have "limited impact" unless neighbouring states join in.

Delhi is grappling with pollution levels 20 times higher than the levels deemed healthy by the World Health Organization, The Guardian reports.

Delhi residents are reporting respiratory difficulties, problems with vision, nausea and lethargy from breathing in the toxic air. Hospitals have also confirmed that there's an increase in admissions related to cardiac and respiratory issues.

To make matters worse, toxic chemicals from industries and factories have heavily polluted India's sacred Yamuna River. A stretch of the river has been blanketed in thick white snow-like foam.

Despite signficant health risks, devotees immersed themselves in the river to take a holy dip and pray during the Hindu festival of Chhath Puja.

“Delhi is full of pollution but still people’s lives are going on. Like that, we will also do our prayers,” Rajendra Mahto, a devotee who was celebrating the festival in the river told the Associated Press.

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