>> An airpocalypse in the Indian capital. I'm Doug Busvine reporting for Reuters. New Delhi has been choking for days in some of the worst air pollution that it has ever faced. Pollution readings went off the charts last weekend, literally. The US Air Quality Index has a scale of 0 to 500.
Well, the US Embassy's air monitoring station recorded a reading of over 1,000. Doctors report an increase of up to half in the number of people seeking treatment for conditions such as bronchitis. They warn that such serious air pollution can take years off the life expectancy of Delhi's 20 million people.
The toxins found in this pollution can even cause infertility. Delhi's Chief Minister has called the city a gas chamber. And is all that series of emergency measures telling 1 million children to stay home from school, but there is one thing he can't do anything about. Widespread burning of crop stubble in the farms around New Delhi.
Said to account for as much as 70% of the air pollution in the city now. Farmers grow rice, they get cheap fertilizer, free electricity. They don't even pay taxes. The government then pays them a guaranteed price and turns round and sells it for a few rupees per kilogram to the poor under a food aide program.
It turns out that the taxpayers of Delhi are sponsoring the farmers who, by burning their crops, are poisoning their air.