Mumbai is the dirtiest city in India

A scrap of cloth. Most children in Delhi don't have anything else to protect themselves. One saw these pictures again now. How the students press the cloths over their mouths, even if that is of little use. Very few people have a chance to leave the city for a few days to escape the worst. All others are at the mercy of Moloch and its air. If the word air still adequately describes what the residents of the Indian capital suck into their lungs every day.

Smog alarm. A toxic veil envelops the 20 million metropolis. And the authorities seem powerless. Once again, they have ordered all schools to be closed by Sunday. The city administration announced that the children's health should not be jeopardized. But the danger has long enveloped them all, the poisonous fog does not blow away so easily, not in this damp and cold weather. The medical association declared a health emergency after the readings confirmed the worst fears. For the particularly dangerous fine dust particles, known as PM 2.5, a value of 700 micrograms per cubic meter was registered - almost thirty times as much as the safety limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 25 micrograms.

In the metropolis of Delhi, which is classified as the dirtiest mega-city in the world, many poisonous throws are concentrated in a narrow space. All around the city, the farmers are burning the stubble of their fields everywhere, power stations and factories are also blowing pollutants into the air, the poor people make their fires in the streets, plastic is burning in many places, dust and sand are whirling through the neighborhoods from the countless construction sites ten million cars blow their exhaust fumes into the streets. And then there is the weather, meteorologists speak of the inversion situation in the cold months, the toxic air sticks to the ground like a bell, no wind that could blow it away.

"Delhi, you are killing me," headlined the newspaper Times of India. And the experts warn: It will hardly get any better in the next few days. Rather worse.

The lung specialist Randeep Guleria reports in the newspaper The Hinduthat the outpatient departments of hospitals fill up with patients; they cough, sneeze, complain of breathlessness and chest pain. Doctors registered an increase in cases of around 20 percent in the past few days. Masks and air purifiers in the home can mitigate the risks a little, but nobody is safe. Only those who get away have a chance to breathe deeply again.

In the long term, a good local public transport network is crucial in order to reduce the burden, but the expansion is progressing slowly. As long as it is not possible to defuse all the other sources of dust inside and outside the city, little will change in the devastating winter months with their toxic veil. "He's a silent killer," says pulmonologist Guleria.