Cuttack: Other than crowd, Bali Jatra is infamous for the dusty air from the riverbed. Masks, hence, are everywhere. Apart from cheap masks, there are innovative invisible filters and plug-in filters made by bigger established players as well.
“Most of the masks I sell are around Rs 10-30. There’s a great demand for them,” said Kishore, a hawker selling masks. He estimates that there must be at least 100 hawkers selling masks and filters.
Experts, however, note that not all masks sold are not very effective for air pollution. According to a report in the Washington Post, many people in India complain of masks being too “uncomfortable” and the stigma associated with it. For a mask to be effective, the fit is very crucial according to a report in DownToEarth. It notes that people with a beard might not be able to secure themselves properly as well.
“The department has given us masks for Bali Jatra, but it is not comfortable to wear all the time,” said a policeman who didn’t want to be named.
Countering this problem to some extent is an IIT Delhi-based startup Nanoclean Global that’s selling its products at Bali Jatra for the first time. Priced at Rs 20, it is a filter that sticks directly on a person’s nose and can filter particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) as well. “Our Nasofilters offer real protection against particulate matter unlike cheap masks, plus it is easier to breathe and it is almost invisible from 5 feet distance,” said Devesh Jain, Partner & GM of the company.