As construction works are being conducted round the clock, clouds of dust have started enveloping the Valley
Kathmandu, March 26, 2017: Facial masks have started flying off the shelves of many retail stores in the Kathmandu Valley, as those residing here try to beat plumes of dust created by continuous digging of the roads to lay the drinking water pipes.
Most of the stores that the Post talked to said demand for these masks soared soon after Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limitied, the sole drinking water supplying company in the Valley, started digging hundreds of kilometres of road segments to expand the drinking water pipeline. The works are being done rapidly to meet the October deadline of bringing in 170 million litres of water per day from the Melamchi River in Sindhupalchowk.
As construction works are being conducted round the clock, clouds of dust have started enveloping the Valley, posing threat to human health. This has prompted people to rush to buy the facial masks. “The stock of disposable masks has begun to clear two times as fast,” said Manish Ghimire, an attendant at a pharmacy in Putalisadak, who sells around 30 to 50 pieces of masks per day. “It is probably the most selling item in our shop.”
Currently, three types of facial masks are available in the Valley. First is the disposable type that is generally available in pharmaceutical outlets. These masks cost Rs5 to Rs10 per unit.
Another type of mask found in the Capital is made of cotton. These masks cost Rs25 to Rs35 per piece. For those who are highly worried about the dust pollution, filtered facial masks are also available. The price of this mask starts at Rs1,500 per unit and goes well beyond Rs5,000.
Of these masks, the most popular, according to Raju Khadka, a salesman at a shop in Bhrikutimandap, is the one made of cotton, as they are affordable and can be reused after washing.
These cotton masks are generally imported from India, China and Thailand. “But due to their growing demand, many have started manufacturing these masks here in Nepal,” said Khadka, who has seen two-fold jump in demand for masks in the last few months.
Although facial masks are selling like hot-cakes in the Valley, some are worried about the future of their businesses.
“The demand for masks is going up largely because of construction works taking place in the Valley. But what will happen once these works are over?” Laxman Manandhar, a local mask seller at Bagbazar said.
Manandhar has already seen demand for masks going down in his store after the stretch of the demolished road in his area was black-topped. “Once development works are over in the city, sales of masks may come down,” Manandhar said.
By Aagat Ruchi Sapkota