India's capital suffers "air-apocalypse" as smog descends on New Delhi

"Pollution is an emergency," said Gopal Rai, Delhi's Minister for the Environment - an area that includes the capital and its region, a rapidly expanding megalopolis of 30 million inhabitants.

New Delhi is regularly ranked among the world's worst capital cities in terms of air quality. A veritable "Air-pocalypse", according to Mr. Rai.

In winter in Delhi, the level of PM 2.5 - carcinogenic micro-particles that penetrate the lungs and blood - is often more than 30 times higher than the maximum level set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Pollution reduces the life expectancy of a Delhi resident by an average of 11.9 years, and by five years for Indians in general, according to a report published in August by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago.

To tackle this decades-old problem, a high-tech coordination center was opened in October. There, 17 experts monitor pollution trends in real time on giant screens, using NASA satellite images and air quality index updates measured by sensors.

Called the "Green War Room", the centre is a coordination platform linked to 28 government agencies.