Constable Parmanand had been serving back-to-back 13-hour shifts at Wazirpur intersection, when he started suffering from regular coughs. Soon came the wheezing, and then the black mucus. Parmanand was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He now has to buy two inhalers, along with medicines, to return to roads and manage traffic.
Traffic policemen, who have to brace for five-day traffic jam due to the festive season, were on Tuesday given 10,000 N-95 masks at Traffic Police Headquarters in Todapur. The masks were given for the Diwali period to more than 6,000 traffic personnel, besides the Delhi Police constables on patrolling duty. There is, however, one catch — the mask can be used for only 24 hours.
The traffic policemen, who received the masks, told The Indian Express that the entire purpose of distributing the N-95 masks may have “good intentions” but was “not practical”.
An ASI posted with the Delhi Traffic Police said, “How is it different from the masks we get from the traffic police? We need something that will last us for days. This is a disposable mask.”
When Dependra Pathak, Special Commissioner (traffic) asked Arvind Chabra, the head of Blueair India — the company providing the masks — how lost each mask will last, he replied, “It will last for 24 hours. But it depends on the usability. If used properly, the mask an last longer.”
“It is easier to breathe in and out with these masks,” he added.
JCP (Traffic) Garima Bhatnagar, however, clarified that the traffic police have several tie-ups with hospitals and their personnel undergo regular checkups.
Constable Anil Kumar argued, “Our main aim is to clear traffic. If we use a face mask, it becomes difficult to speak on the walkie talkie or errant drivers.”