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Entering New Year with burning eyes, scorched lungs

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By Sidharth Mishra

As we read newspapers dated January 1, 2024, the hotels and other watering holes in Delhi-NCR would be counting on the profits made during what’s variously and most commonly called New Year bonanza. The roads leading to the hill stations have been jam-packed and the hill resorts too must have cooked sumptuous foods and their cash boxes would have remained clinging since the Christmas bells started to jingle.

While these are the visible areas of profit, what has escaped public notice are the notification on the pharmacy sites. Most of them are announcing the eye drops containing Carboxymethylcellulose as best sellers. To understand what these eye drops are, they are called by various brand names like Refresh Tears, Hypermist, Ontears, and Tears Naturale.

These eye drops help you not fight back tears but regenerate some in the eyes. The level of air pollution make it difficult for the natural tears in the eyes to absorb all the pollutants, thus the eyes going dry and the burning sensation. To fire fight the burn in the eyes, these tear drops play the role of the fire brigade.

This is a major health issue. Air pollution contributes to overall dryness in the air, which in turn leads to dry eyes, making them more susceptible to irritation and discomfort. In addition to this airborne allergens too contribute to eye irritation. These allergens are present in higher concentrations in polluted air, aggravating the symptoms for individuals who are sensitive or allergic to them.

But is anybody really bothered that the residents of Delhi, the capital city of India, the seat of power since the medieval times entered the New Year with teary eyes and coughing lungs. The other bestselling medicines from the pharmacy apps and drug stores are those containing Levocetirizine and Montelukast salts.

These medicines are used in the treatment of allergic symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, itching, swelling, and congestion or stuffiness. These also come under the different brand names like Telekast – L, Montair – LC, Montek – LC, Monticope and L Montos among others.

Is anybody uptight why these medicines are selling in such high quantities? At least the newspaper reports or news on video doesn’t indicate that both the governments – Central and Delhi, which have seats in the national Capital are any concerned about it? It doesn’t look like it, nobody is talking about it.

The only body which looks to be any concerned is Commission for Air Quality Maintenance (CAQM) in the National Capital Region. They are concerned because their very existence is contingent to the monitoring the air quality. They make their presence felt by ordering vehicles off road as soon as pollution meter turns red.

Now this is very curious that after having paid the road tax for 15 years, and getting the vehicles pollution checked every quarter, still a middle-class car owner is blamed for the pollution in the city. One is saying middle class, because a person with limited income cannot afford to change his or her vehicle every two to three years.

For these middle class families, with their vehicles banned on the roads, with cab, train, flight and hotel fares all soaring, with the new year bonanza in the city hotels costing a fortune, the best way to bring in the New Year has been to stay indoors and watch television with the liberal helping of the teary eye-drops.

On a more serious note, it doesn’t matter whether Delhi’s tableaux become part of the Republic Day parade or not, it doesn’t matter if the huge advertisements announce Vande Bharats and Amrit Bharats trains connecting Delhi with various destinations. Residents of Delhi NCR would be much indebted to powers that be in the year 2024 if the sales of teary eye drops and anti-allergens are brought down.  

(First Published in The Morning Standard)


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