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Delhi smog: Rush to buy masks, air purifiers, from digital shelves

 PTI |  2016-11-09 00:04:57.0  |  New Delhi

Delhi smog: Rush to buy masks, air purifiers, from digital shelves

Customers are thronging e-commerce platforms such as Snapdeal, Flipkart and Amazon to buy air purifiers and masks to protect themselves from the health-threatening thick cloud of smog that has been enshrouding Delhi since Diwali.

While many people bought these items as a preventive measure before the festival of lights and crackers, there has been a significant rise in sales post Diwali as well.

According to Snapdeal, the category has seen an overall three-fold increase in demand this year compared to the same time last year.

“Between pre-Diwali and post-Diwali, we have already seen a seven-fold increase in the number of air purifiers and masks sold on Snapdeal,” it added.

Interestingly, the city-based portal has curated a special store for the category and is expecting a 10-fold surge in orders placed for air purifiers.

Consumers are also opting for air purifiers on the go.

Unit sales of car air purifiers in the first 5 days of November was 140 per cent more than that seen in the month of October for the devices on Snapdeal.

The city’s air quality has steadily worsened over the years, a result of pollution from vehicles and industrial emissions.

Apart from atmospheric dust, burning of crop stubble in farms also contributed to the thick cover of hazardous haze that has been shrouding the city for nearly a week.

The air quality have levels of harmful PM 2.5 particles hovering at dangerous levels, something that has been seen in cities like Beijing.

These fine particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease.

E-commerce giant Flipkart, too, has seen a year-on-year growth of 2.5 times in sales in terms of units sold and 2.8X rise in revenue.

The country’s largest e-commerce player said about 50 per cent of the air purifier demand is coming from Delhi, while 71 per cent of the the demand is from the north zone.

Amazon.in has also witnessed three-fold increase in unit sales of air purifiers in October this year (compared to trhe previous month) and 4X increase as against last October.

“About 50 per cent of our orders are coming from customers belonging to cities like Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore apart from other metros. With the onset of winters and the growing smog/fog situation in cities during this time of the year, we expect the customer demand for Air Purifiers to peak over the next three months,” an Amazon.in spokesperson said.

Sales of pollution masks have also jumped six times in the last few days on the US-based e-tailer’s India website with customer demand rising 13 times over last year.

“The highest number of orders for pollution masks were placed by customers on November 1 this year. The demand continues to be high from northern India with most orders coming from Delhi,” the spokesperson said. More 

The Delhi government had issued a circular to schools in the city to remain closed till November 9 as the government worked on ways to counter the situation.

Companies like Idea Cellular and PayU are also taking steps to protect their employees.

Idea Cellular said it has enabled flexible timing for employees and face masks are being distributed to assist them in reducing their exposure to pollutants in the air.

“Special buses will be plied to pick and drop employees from key locations and car pools are being planned so that vehicular movement is reduced. These facilities have been enabled for this entire week,” it added.

PayU India, on the other hand, has declared work from home so that engineering work is not affected.

‘NCR pollution will hit tourism, car, transport, real estate industries’

The alarming post-Diwali pollution is likely to take a toll on the entire National Capital region (NCR), crippling sectors like tourism, transport, automobile and real estate, according to a report.

“While it may be difficult to hazard a figure of economic loss, since the exact period of dangerous levels of pollutants would depend on the weather conditions along with administrative measures, there is no doubt that several billions of dollars of fresh investment and GDP loss would occur,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

Besides, it would lead to a loss of confidence among the citizens, Rawat added.

The industry chamber observed that in the immediate term, the tourism season could be the worst-hit with the Delhi and NCR pollution making global headlines and creating an impression that visitors should avoid these places.

A large number of foreign tourists visit the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur (entire Rajasthan).

It said the feedback from tour operators and hoteliers clearly points out a deep concern over the negative impact that the pollution can cause to the economy.

“If urgent steps on emergency scale are not taken, the economic impact arising out of the health issues could be catastrophic for the NCR, one of the important pillars of the national economy. Besides, this is also a wake up call for other regions around Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata,” Rawat said.

In its analyis, Assocham noted that there are already requests from global tour operators to re-align the itinerary of the international tourists to the ‘Golden Triangle’.

“Instead of the tourists dividing period of stay between Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan, there have been enquiries where the visitors can avoid Delhi, excepting the touch-down options at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the national capital,” the chamber pointed out. It said that along with tourism, transportation would also take a hit if investment and flow of tourists suffer a setback. 

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