A commuters stands inside a disinfectant tunnel at the entrance of New Market in a measure taken against the COVID-19 virus in Kolkata. (Express photo by Partha Paul)
In a bid to ensure public spaces like markets are safe amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there have been calls for broader sanitising measures. Now, in one of Kolkata’s busiest markets, a disinfectant sprinkler system has been placed to sanitise people entering and exiting the premises.
At one of the gates of Kolkata’s bustling, century-old, New Market, a walk-through kiosk has been installed with water-sprinklers spraying disinfectant on traders and customers. The sprinkler has been set up by Harley Sanikool, a wing of F Harley company, in collaboration with Kolkata Municipal Corporation. The firm specialises in misting and fogging of commercial plants.
Talking to IndianExpress.com, company representative Apurve Kakkar explained how their solution is different from all the other existing tunnels in the country so far and safer. “The tunnels that have been installed elsewhere are spraying a solution of Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl). As you know, it’s a bleaching agent which even in diluted form is unsafe for humans. For our system we are using a diluted version of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), it also has antiseptic properties used for treating wounds, so is completely safe to be used on human beings,” he highlighted.
The private company insisted that they using Hydrogen Peroxide, which is safer and not harmful like Sodium hypochlorite, used in other cities that created controversy. (Express photo by Partha Paul)
As of now, the company has installed only one gate at the market owing to the lockdown, but plans to install more gates as soon as it's feasible and the government gives more orders for it. “The system will work on time-based and sensor-based technology as we don’t want to waste resources. Our intention is to kill germs effectively by not harming anyone or wasting water.” he added.
After the lockdown was enforced, migrant workers travelling back to their home states were sprayed with a disinfectant, and one particular incident in UP’s Bareilly sparked a huge controversy. The migrant workers were showered with water mixed with Sodium Hypochlorite, which is used on a large scale for surface purification, bleaching, odour removal and water disinfection.
Talking about the gate to The Indian Express, Debabrata Majumder, MMIC, Solid Waste Management said the kiosk has been installed on a trial basis. “We have put up just to see how it’s working. First, we need to be sure that it’s completely safe and only once we get proper certification about the chemicals used in the system, will we go ahead with the plan,” the senior KMC official said. “If the certification is proper and results are satisfactory, then we will install it in other markets around the city,” he added.
Rajib Singh, secretary of New Market Traders’ Association, called it a welcome move. “This is for the first time something like this has been done in Kolkata. There will be no fear of coronavirus if people are entering the market using that gate as the whole body will be sanitised. There are also talks to install more such gates in other markets too.”