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City braces for breathing woes due to cracker pollution

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Watch out if you feel like lighting those red ‘ladi’ string bombs and other smoke-emanating fireworks at Diwali. They may seem exciting, but are a host of illness triggers. When these crackers are burst, the air gets charged with partially combusted low volatile organic compounds which remain suspended in the atmosphere for several days. This is deadly for not just asthmatics, but causes breathing difficulties in anyone, warn experts.

Poisonous to the lungs

During this time, cases of asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) actually double, informs Dr Prashant Chhajed, chest and respiratory disease specialist. “Several crackers have multiple toxic compounds like copper and cadmium, which stay suspended in the air in dust form. These are respiratory irritants and increase the risk of asthma attacks, bronchitis and symptoms of allergic rhinitis, including sneezing, runny nose and headaches. What is alarming is that the festive time coincides with a cooler weather, which means the prevalent smog will worsen things,” he says.

These noxious fumes and gases may take long to dissipate, so one can succumb to respiratory issues even during the days after Diwali, cautions pulmonologist, Dr Sujeet Rajan. “In Mumbai, you also have vehicular exhaust that adds to this. We should behave responsibly enough. Besides, Diwali should be about light than noise. If you look at the environment pollution is terms of particulate matters, it’s the worst at this point.”

He also feels exposure plays a crucial role. “I think more than intensity, it’s the duration and quality of the crackers too. Sparklers are not that bad, but certain ‘tablets’ that wind up like a snake are the worst, as per the Chest Research Foundation, Pune. Thus, anyone with an airway disease can suffer badly with this,” he adds.

Causes Eardrum injuries

High velocity crackers cause severe eardrum damage. “This is very common at this time due to sound explosion,” says ENT specialist Dr Sanjay Helale. “I get so many cases of people who suffer holes in the eardrums not due to a direct injury, but the intense sound pressure of crackers. It can cause irreparable hearing loss because if nerve is badly damaged, nothing can be done. This also causes an unpleasant ringing sound in the ear and giddiness, which can last anywhere for days to months.”

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Source: TOI-MUM

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Winds of change in Shekhawati region

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About 20 years ago, politician and philanthropist Kamal Morarka, former MP and a minister in the Chandra Shekhar cabinet, set up the MR Morarka-GDC Rural research Foundation in memory of his late father. It was founded with the mission of generating wealth and knowledge through innovations in resource management, application of new technology and upgrading the skills and talent of rural people.

The foundation, which was started in Nawalgarh, a small town located on the edge of the Thar desert in Rajasthan, now covers the entire Shekhawati region which comprises four rural districts, and has branched out its IT-enabled services to change the lives of people across the country. Every year, it keeps venturing into new areas and launching new initiatives with its key focus on areas like organic farming, IT-enabled education, farm tourism, waste management, biotechnology, women’s self-help groups, solar power, heritage conservation, e-libraries and environmental preservation.

With Morarka’s interests in other cultural and media-related enterprises, the foundations activities have grown manifold, and is one of the most exciting philanthropic initiatives in the country today. The annual Shekhawati Festival is a celebration of this initiative. The foundation has worked closely with Rajasthan State Tourism, the Art and Culture Department and the district authorities of Sikar, Churu and Jhunjhunu to make this annual event a prime tourist attraction.

Though professionals run the foundation and its many activities, Morarka visits the foundation once a year to see the progress of the different projects. Many local events were held last month to celebrate the progress made on different projects. These events and the projects are collectively contributing towards transforming the entire Shekhawati region and making it the nucleus of a new Rajasthan in the making.

Kamal Morarka says, “This is just another small effort we are making to contribute towards the new India story. I believe we should start with the smallest village and the poorest people if we want to really change the country. This is a task each one of us must undertake in our own way. Hopefully, you will see a lot of changes in the Shekhawati region in the coming years and thousands of locals will be better equipped to shape their future through better education, new technology and a better understanding of our own strengths as a nation, and as a people.”

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Source: TOI-MUM

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Soaring prices of kitchen essentials dampen festive spirit

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MUMBAI: The rising cost of kitchen staples like onion, tomato, green peas, ridged gourd apart from the already high prices of pulse have dampened the spirits of Mumbaikars in the festive season.

Citizens allege that government’s promises to control the price rise have fallen flat.

Initially, the prices of onion pinched pockets for several months and now even after the arrival of new stock, the rates hover between Rs 40 and 50 per kg. Tomato prices have touched Rs 60 per kg from Rs 40 and green peas cost Rs 150 per kg. Ridged gourd, which was Rs 60, has jumped to Rs 130 per kg in the retail market, leaving consumers fuming.

Supply of stock doesn’t seem to be matching the demand in the festive season. Consumers are up in arms while battling the skyrocketing dal prices along with other items. “We are in search for the discounted dal that the government has promised us,” said Akshara Jee, a homemaker. Traders are also unhappy. “Our regular customers are dissatisfied with expensive dal, which has prompted us to do away with pulses for the time being,” said retailer Manoj Mule.

“We are forced to face tough times due to the present government’s failure. The regime has failed to initiate deterrent measure to neutralize the rising prices of essential commodities,” said Susbhash Vishwakarma, a chartered accountant. “Most of the vegetables are unaffordable like pulses. The rising cost of kitchen essentials has played spoilsport in the festive season,” said Seema Sharma, a homemaker.

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Source: TOI-MUM

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