10 Tuesday
November 2020
Clean Air 365- a real possibility in India.

This isn’t a utopian wish, the lockdown has shown us that clean air and clear skies are possible in India.The West has transformed it’s black smokey skies to clear beautiful ones, why can’t we? It is possible if we the people of India make clean air an absolute priority. We are all exhausted fretting about the air outside. What steps can we take and how soon can we hope the government’s #NationalCleanAirPlan will start showing results in terms of improvement in air quality.

Gurgaon skies in May 2020
Citizens efforts- we must start all these right away if not practising already.

1. Segregate waste at source
2. Prevent and report garbage burning (17% air pollution)
3. Car pool
4. Buy Electric vehicles
5. Cycle/walk when air quality permits
6. Switch off engines at red light when waiting time is more than 10 seconds.
7. Give up fuel guzzler vehicles (14% air pollution)
8. Absolutely No crackers
9. Install solar power on terraces.
10. Plant trees. Create small urban forests in whatever space you have.

Sources of air pollution.
Government tasks- I’m hoping to see some serious action on these.

1. Vaccuming trucks round the clock to reduce road dust (38% of PM10)
2. Enforce construction sites/ trucks transporting material are properly covered.
3. Enforce public vehicles/ old vehicles do not pollute. Formulate a means of public reporting of such defaulters and fine/impound repeat offenders
4. Provide farmers alternatives to stubble burning like Happy harvester or PUSA decomposer. No point in knee jerk bans or fines.
5. Plan to ban firecrackers in polluted states like Haryana,Delhi,Uttar Pradesh and all metro cities for atleast 3 years until the baseline air quality improves.
6. Replace coal based power plants by renewal fuel in a time bound manner. This should be a 3-5 year plan not infinity.
7. Create composting units in every residential sector. Organise waste recycling so it happens at source.
8. E waste collection centres at multiple points in every city.
9.Increase forest cover on priority. Do not permit tree cutting unless due diligence is done on alternative sites, case in point Aarey Metro shed.
10. Provide uninterrupted power supply so diesel generators can be defunct (9% air pollution)

Let us together as a nation work on improving the air quality. Lakhs of people die every year due to poor air. Lakhs of people develop cancer due to air pollutants. Children have asthma,mental retardation and learning disabilities due to bad air.

Gurgaon skies in November 2020
Drop everything else and focus on #CleanAirForAll

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon Gurgaon

02 Monday
December 2020
Flying during a pandemic : SOP
(Tips to fly safely in Covid times)

I just got back from a trip to Udaipur to meet my parents. 8 months of isolation and I was desperate for their hugs, at the same time we didn’t want to carry infection to them. Here are a few steps we followed, which will help you in case you wish to fly in the next 6 months- 1 year.

Frequent trips are a thing of the past, so plan to stay for as long as it’s feasible. Earlier I was traveling every month, but that’s not going to be possible now. For a week before travel we avoided any sort of unnecessary social exposure including playing badminton or kids playing with their friends in the building park.

Tickets were booked just a week in advance. We booked return tickets a few days after landing there. Web check in, printing boarding passes and baggage tags are mandatory for all airlines. We chose seats right in the front of the aircraft to minimise contact.

We wore re-usable cloth surgical gowns covering neck to feet, full sleeves (avoiding single use PPE kits for the environment) along with simple examination gloves, 3 layered cloth masks which covered mouth and nose during the entire excursion. Airlines provide face shields. Sanitised hands frequently, keeping distance during boarding and deplaning. We ate sandwiches carried from home prior to boarding and did not take off masks or face shields for the entire duration of the journey. No talking or interaction with anyone.

We chose not to use luggage trolleys at either airport. Once we were out of airport removed all protective gear and put them into a carry bag before getting into the car. That way we were able to avoid carrying infection and remained safe.

At home, we washed our hands and face before we hugged my parents and even in Udaipur our outings were to the terrace or farmhouse, totally avoiding any public place. Eating home food and playing lots of cards and board games.

In the journey we were not the only ones looking abnormally dressed. Delhi airport had people in various kinds of PPE and face shields. I think it’s best we don’t forget the danger of physical contact and the fact that all of us could be carriers.

If people showed as much effort in wearing masks and keeping distance in everyday activities like a trip to the grocery store, Covid 19 would already have become history. Until the pandemic is over, this is how we fly!

#StaySafe #StayHappy
Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon Gurgaon