Delhi

City grabs masks as weapon against pollution

Women sporting anti-pollution masks in New Delhi on Sunday.

Women sporting anti-pollution masks in New Delhi on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: V.V. KRISHNAN

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Despite knowing that these are hardly effective, people opt for what they say is the only solution

With a significant drop in the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi post Diwali this year, Delhiites have started donning anti-pollution masks in large numbers. The Hindu spoke to some people who said they have decided to cover their faces while stepping out in the open, for the first time.

“I don’t want it to happen, but the business is booming,” said Akash Garg who sells masks at Palika Bazzar. He said he was wearing one for the first time, but added that the masks were not of much help. “The masks can protect you from dust as much as a handkerchief will. They can hardly protect you from pollutants. The other masks which have some chemical in them are a bit better but even they don’t really do much,” he claimed.

Akash Joshi, a political worker, who has lived in the city for over three years, decided to put on a mask for the first time this season. “My throat was itching, my eyes were watering. It was a little weird initially, but we are helpless,” he said. Pinning the blame for the poor air quality on crop burning in the Northwestern States, he said he believed that unless a viable alternative is given to the farmers, Delhi’s air quality would not improve. “But who would want to annoy people who are the vote banks” he smiled.

Harish Chowdary, a resident of Karol Bagh, who is preparing for civil service examinations and has been staying in the city since five years, said this year has been the worst when it comes to air pollution levels. He purchased a mask and was also trying to convince his friends to buy those. Crop burning, vehicular pollution, construction are among factors that contribute to the pollution, he said, adding that schemes like the odd-even were the only solution.

Some sanitation workers at Connaught Place have been given surgical masks to be worn while on duty, by the New Delhi Municipal Council. One such worker, Bhagwan Das, said he purchased a black cotton mask for himself and his children who go out and play. “The situation is quite bad this year. I am not sure if it [mask] helps, but you have to do something. Don’t you?” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:01:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/city-grabs-masks-as-weapon-against-pollution/article29873329.ece

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