The week that followed Diwali celebrations on October 31 was one of the darkest for the national Capital – primarily because the sun was blocked by a thick and hazardous layer of smog and pollution. Just a day after, people woke up to smog with visibility up to 200m. According to air quality monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board, PM 2.5 in Delhi went up to 999 in the US Embassy area and 702 in Anand Vihar. In RK Puram, PM 2.5 went up to 643 micrograms — almost 10 times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metres and PM 10 stood at 999 micrograms per cu. m, which is also way more than the safe limit of 100 micrograms.
While the Delhi government gave some relief to young kids by closing schools for three days, while construction was banned for five. But what of the huge office-going junta? Even though the pollution levels have gone down, the situation is far from ideal. To address the health risks associated with the exposure to such high-level pollutants, several firms have taken steps to help ensure their employees inhale as little ‘toxic air’ as possible. Companies such as Idea Cellular, Eli India, among others, with offices ranging from Gurgaon to Noida and employees coming from various parts of NCR have introduced flexi-timings as well as distributed face masks in an effort to reduce their exposure to pollutants in the air. Some even encouraged employees to work from home when possible. Idea Cellular even started special buses to pick and drop employees from key locations and car pools are being planned so that vehicular movement is reduced during the first crucial week.
Looking at more long-term returns, Eli India also intends to plant trees on work anniversaries. Gurgaon-based tech firm Evoxyz Technologies took similar measures as others, but is also looking at the future. “As technologists, this situation pushed us to put our thinking caps on and hence the R&D team has been asked to do extensive research on how IoT based air purifier can be developed so they get functional based on the current AQI index,” said Shilpa Mahna Bhatnagar, CEO and co-founder of the firm.
Other companies such as HSIL looked at their own products for a solution. According to Rakesh Kaul, President and Chief, CPD, “We installed 15 Moonbow air purifiers, from HSIL Ltd, within the office premises to combat the hazardous wave. This initiative is a part of our larger efforts to demonstrate our concern for our employees overall well-being.”
Now, though pollution levels have gone down from what they were in the first week of November, it’s still four times more than the prescribed safe standards. People in Delhi have been wearing masks while going and a fair number have reportedly even installed air purifiers at home.