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'Wear masks': Experts on ways to combat pollution and covid in Delhi during winter | Exclusive – India Today

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Following the Delhi government’s ‘winter action plan’ to combat pollution in the national capital that deteriorates during the winter season, India Today spoke with environment and health experts on ways to avoid the troubles of Covid-19 and pollution in Delhi-NCR in the upcoming months.

Experts believe that pollution combined with corona can make it a more hazardous situation. According to them, where there is more pollution, the chances of Covid-19 spreading rapidly are higher, reducing the survival rate.
Environment activist and advocate Vikrant Tongad said that stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh should be controlled, as it is a major contributor to increasing levels of pollution in the air. However, lack of funds for the disposal of stubble by farmers also contributes to the issue, he mentioned.
Talking about increasing vehicular pollution in Delhi-NCR, Tongad suggested the implementation of the Odd-Even scheme should be considered. “The metro should be made free of cost to travel, so that people leave private vehicles and avail public transport more. This will reduce air pollution,” he said.
Adjacent to Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad are the industrial hubs, where there are factories spewing smoke, brick kilns are running, factories burning tires adding to industrial pollution. Tongad said that there was a need to curb industrial pollution, otherwise people’s health would be severely affected.

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Tongad further added, “Special steps have not been taken regarding waste management in Delhi-NCR. Garbage is disposed of by burning trash, and huge mountains of waste have developed. This, too, increases the levels of pollution.”
The activist emphasised the importance of controlling the increasing dust pollution on construction sites. “Work is going on for big projects in Delhi, Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad. A major contributor to dust pollution is these construction sites. There is a need to prevent the spread of pollution at construction sites. The local agency should work throughout the year, and strictly implement the orders given by the court,” he said.
Talking about the importance of wearing masks, Dr Arun Gupta, President, Delhi Medical Council said, “The most effective way to avoid corona and pollution is masks, because of their double benefits. People should wear good quality masks. If you want to protect yourself from pollution and covid, then you can wear an N95 mask.”
Gupta suggested avoiding market places, as they are getting crowded due to the festive season.

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“If possible, do not go to crowded places because viral fever also spreads a lot during the winter season. The important thing is that viral fever, corona virus and pollution all attack the lungs. So avoid going to crowded places and try to stay at home,” he said.
Gupta recommended being extra cautious towards the elderly and children.

“If children want to go to play or the elderly want to take a walk, then outdoor activities should be avoided during the day, as the pollution level is higher then,” he said.
Dr Gupta said that during the winter season, the wind speed slows down and the pollution in the air increases a lot. In such a situation, he suggested public transport like the bus or metro should be used and private vehicles should be avoided.
“Avoid burning leaves or wood during the winter season. Also, if construction work is going on around the house, it is important to be careful because dust pollution occurs in such places only,” Gupta said.
Apart from this, Dr Gupta has emphasized focusing on the food of children during cold days. He said that children have less immunity than parents, so children are more prone to infection. At the same time, special care should be taken of hydration and hygiene of children.
“If children have a fever, cold or difficulty breathing due to increased pollution, then parents should immediately contact the doctor, and self-medication should be avoided, because these days what we consider to be a common disease can also be coronavirus infection’, Dr Gupta added.

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