Life went on as usual yesterday in New Delhi, even as the city continued to struggle with one of the worst spells of air pollution in recent years. Young runners took part in the New Delhi 10K Challenge amid the severe air pollution, while adults were spotted playing cricket or cycling in heavy smog. The city government has closed schools for the next three days and all construction activity has been banned for the next five days. The chief minister has compared the state with a "gas chamber", primarily blaming crop-burning by farmers in neighbouring states. New Delhi's air quality has steadily worsened over the years due to rapid urbanisation that brings pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions. The reading for pollutants in the atmosphere recently breached the 1,000 microgram mark for the first time in one neighbourhood in south Delhi - 10 times the World Health Organisation's recommended level.