>> A deadly cocktail of toxic fumes is choking India's capital. Pollution levels surged from severe to hazardous this week, exposing residents to up to 24 times the recommended limit for dangerous particles. But compared to other countries in Asia, people here are less likely to protect themselves. Things like face masks are an unusual sight in Delhi.
Doctors warn thousands of children are likely to grow up with health issues related to the smog. The number of patients with severe lung problems has already gone up by 25% this year. But while India's 2019 general election is creeping ever nearer, politicians are largely getting away with turning a blind eye to the public health crisis.
Most voters here live in poverty, and they are more concerned with making enough money to buy food than air quality. Reuters correspondent Neha Dasgupta is in New Delhi.>> This is where the deadly political calculations come in to play. A city of 20 million people, roughly the population of Australia, this is a city that's ruled neither by the prime minister's ruling party or by the main opposition party.
>> And that gives them little incentive to cooperate with city authorities. Last year, Delhi's chief minister likened the city to a gas chamber. This was supposed to be the year the problem was tackled. But so far, Prime Minister Modi's administration, the local government, and surrounding authorities have been shifting blame over who's responsible.
>> And a state government official actually told us, the city of Delhi can't really build a wall. And blamed external factors, such as farmers in the neighboring states of Delhi, in Punjab and Haryana who torch their fields at this time of the year, to make way for new harvest and send plumes of toxic smoke wading into the heart of Delhi.
>> And this is the time of year when pollution reaches its peak. The Diwali festival of lights will be celebrated this week. It's marked with fireworks and crackers. And they're another contributing factor to Delhi's deadly smog.