Clouds of smoke from the annual burning of stubble in the paddy fields of the Punjab are causing major disruption in Delhi, where haze has reduced air quality by up to 80 points on the air quality index.

Delhi, India.

Delhi, India. Image by David Bacon / CC BY 2.0

Officials have warned that children should not play outdoors because of the smog, and visibility at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport has dropped to less than 800m. Although it is officially banned, thousands of farmers set fire to their paddy fields after the annual harvest to replenish nutrients in the soil for the coming years’ crop. Problems are being exacerbated by the microclimate of the central Indian plains, which traps pollution close to ground level rather than releasing it into the upper atmosphere. Read more: