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AQI ‘Hazardous’ in RK Puram – Are MCD Workers Safe In This Smog?

MCD workers battle high pollution, and government-issued masks aren’t effective at keeping out particulate matter.

My Report
2 min read

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Toxic air has been choking the national capital since October-end this year. The AQI in various parts of Delhi reached ‘severe’ levels, and RK Puram is one of the worst affected areas.

According to, the AQI level at RK Puram as of 11 am on Wednesday, 13 November, was ‘567’. This spike is directly related to a rise in respiratory diseases. Is anyone safe from the smog?

MCD workers at RK Puram answered in the negative. These workers seldom wear masks to protect themselves from the harmful effects of pollution.


A truck arrived at the spot to clear the waste. I had difficulty breathing and my eyes were irritated, but the workers continued unabated.

A worker clears garbage inRK Puram area.
(Photo: Rittu Jacob/The Quint)

Deepender, an MCD workers, told me,

“We don’t know anything about masks because never get any.”

When I asked him specifically about the N95 mask, here’s what he said:

“We got to know from the news that a mask which costs around Rs 60 or 70 is good for protection. Due to pollution in the air, it has been difficult to breathe but in my line of work, this keeps happening.”

None of the workers who were clearing waste were seen wearing any masks. They said that they only use the masks provided by the MCD and those provided are the
green, surgical ones from the hospitals. But dust particles can still get through those, they told me, which doesn’t sound too useful.

I also met Mangal, the Supervisor of SDMC and in-charge of the South Zone. He was empathetic towards his workers. He was wearing a black mask which he had procured himself.

“Our workers are working tirelessly amidst the pollution. They do not have any masks, nor are they provided with gloves. Even if we get any, they are of low quality.”
Masks provided to MCD Workers at RK Puram. 
(Photo: Rittu Jacob/The Quint)

Another worker, Rakesh, was very concerned about the health risks they face. He said,

“It was very difficult for us to breathe and I had a bad throat due to pollution – it’s still bad.”

MCD workers request that the government provide them with basic facilities considering the work they do despite high levels of pollution.

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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