Tuesday, March 28

Cottage industry to save lives gathers pace in Kolkata

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In the wake of the state government making masks mandatory at public places but with a relaxation on the kind of cloth to be used, several good Samaritans have started making masks at home and distributing them to individuals in need, and especially those at high risk.

Commerce graduate and a Behala resident Debanjana Roy had been experimenting with home-made masks for the last few weeks for her family, friends and relatives. But now, she has planned to go on an overdrive making more masks with the help of her mother’s sewing machine. She plans to distribute them among those in need. “I learnt making masks on the internet and my family and friends loved it. The only problem I have is now sourcing the raw materials but I am still trying to manage somehow,” said Roy.

Fashion designing student and Southern Avenue resident Vidhita Poddar, too, started distributing home-made masks among vegetable and fruit vendors at Lake Market. She has also distributed masks among security guards in the area. “I make around 40 every day out of cotton, washable fabric and distribute them among people who are providing us essential services. They are risking their lives to ensure our convenience and safety. This is the least I can do for them,” said Poddar.

Clubs, too, have roped in local residents in making cloth masks on a large scale and distributing it among people. Baghajatin Tarun Sangha club took the help of local tailors to know the required ratio/size for the cloth and attaching threads and since last week, the members have started preparing masks. “We have truncated our costs for the puja this year and bought raw materials for masks. We have already made around 1,000 masks in past seven days. These masks will be distributed among people in Baghajatin, Jadavpur and Garia areas,” said Amit Basak, cultural secretary of the club.

A group of youths at Kidderpore have tried to make disposable masks with paper, rubber band and a stapler. They have made hundreds of such masks and distributed them among locals. “The idea is to break the transmission chain. If a person suffering from cough and cold wears a mask, there is less chance of him spreading the virus. We tried to make it with paper as it is easily available and doesn’t cost much,” said Arijit Kundu, the brain behind the plan.

The state government on Sunday issued an order making it mandatory to cover mouth and nose in case you step out of your home. However, the order stressed the user need not put on N95 or surgical masks and one is free to use “any piece of cloth”, even properly rolled dupatta, gamcha or handkerchief.

This is in keeping with TOI’s #MaskIndia initiative that urges people to cover up to fight the virus and encourages the use of home-made masks. Even doctors have said using a mask is helpful as it serves two purposes — it protects you from infection and protects those around you from a viral attack.

According to a senior official, any government order is legally enforcible under section 188 of IPC, which gives police the power to arrest and prosecute those who violate it. The offence is bailable and carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment.


Source: Times of India

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