Pollution is Causing Breathing Issues in Animals

Pollution is Causing Breathing Issues in Animals and Birds Too

Pankaj Bhardwaj, a veterinarian practising in Delhi-NCR, says he sees an increasing number of cases chronic bronchitis and inflammatory airways among pets. His views

Of late, I have been witnessing a distressing trend that transcends the boundaries of all living species – a surge in asthma cases not only among humans but also within the intricate tapestry of our animal and bird communities. The ever-rising pollution levels in the region have cast a gloomy shadow over the respiratory health of our beloved pets and the diverse wildlife that calls this area home. 

Delhi NCR, with its myriad of challenges, has become a crucible where the fates of humans and animals intertwine amidst a backdrop of worsening air quality. The metropolis, notorious for its high levels of particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants, has become a testing ground for the resilience of both domesticated pets and the untamed creatures that navigate the urban wilderness. 

For our domestic companions, the confines of our homes, once considered safe havens, now harbor invisible threats. Indoor pollutants, a toxic blend of household cleaners, air fresheners, and volatile organic compounds, join forces with external pollutants seeping in from the polluted outdoors. Dogs, cats, and other pets are experiencing respiratory distress—wheezing, coughing, and struggling for breath. 

Dogs, cats, and horses share human-exposed hazards. Indoor carcinogens contribute to lung and nasal cancer in dogs, while passive smoking elevates malignant lymphoma incidence in cats. Urban air pollution heightens risks for dogs with chronic bronchitis and cats with inflammatory airway diseases. It’s heart-wrenching to see animals that once thrived in the comforting embrace of their homes now grappling with the adverse effects of the very air they breathe. 

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Venturing into the city’s green patches reveals a similar narrative in the wild. Birds, with their delicate respiratory systems, are particularly vulnerable to the noxious air that permeates even the most secluded corners. Urbanization, industrial emissions, and vehicular exhaust combine to create a hostile environment for these feathered denizens. Their once melodic songs are now accompanied by the subtle undertones of wheezes—a poignant reminder that even the skies above Delhi NCR are not immune to the consequences of human-induced pollution. 

As a veterinarian in this region, each day unfolds as a series of encounters with animals struggling to cope with the invisible adversary—pollution. The clinic becomes a sanctuary for creatures seeking relief from the wheezes in the wind. Pets, often regarded as family members, bring with them symptoms mirroring those of their human counterparts—labored breathing, persistent coughs, and an overall air of discomfort. It’s a stark reminder that the health of our animal companions is intricately linked to the environmental challenges we collectively face. 

The impact of pollution on animals in Delhi NCR extends beyond immediate health concerns. Long-term exposure to elevated pollution levels poses a threat to the overall well-being of our pets and wildlife. Chronic respiratory conditions can lead to a diminished quality of life, affecting their ability to play, explore, and express their natural behaviors.  

Addressing the rising asthma cases in animals necessitates a holistic approach that transcends the confines of veterinary clinics. Pet owners play a crucial role in mitigating indoor pollution by opting for eco-friendly products, ensuring proper ventilation, and creating safe havens for their pets. On a larger scale, collaborative efforts between veterinarians, environmental agencies, and policymakers are essential to enact measures that curb pollution and safeguard the respiratory health of all inhabitants, human and animal alike. 

As a veterinarian navigating this complex landscape, I am committed to advocating for the well-being of our animal companions, urging for a concerted effort to address the root causes of pollution and create an environment where every breath is a testament to a healthier, more harmonious coexistence. 

As told to Deepti Sharma

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Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai

Air Pollution Persisting In Entire North India: Rai Seeks Centre’s Intervention

As a layer of haze continued to cover the national capital on Friday, and the air quality was recorded in the ‘severe’ category in several parts of the city, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has sought Central Government’s intervention to curb the pollution.

Speaking to ANI, Rai said that the issue of pollution persists not only in Delhi but the entire north India and cannot be resolved only if the national capital becomes active.

“This situation is persisting in all of north India. Besides Delhi, Haryana is showing severe category air quality in 12 districts…There are 14 such locations in Rajasthan…There are several districts in western Uttar Pradesh where there is a similar situation,” he said on Friday.

He further requested Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav to hold a meeting with environment ministers of states to address the issue of air pollution.

“In Delhi, we formed a special team yesterday for the strict implementation of GRAP regulations…I think this is a problem for the entire north India. It can’t be resolved if only Delhi becomes active. I think it is time for the Central Government to intervene. I also request the Union Environment Minister to conduct a meeting of Environment Ministers…” Rai added.

Earlier on Thursday, Rai said that a 6-member special task force has been formed, under the leadership of the Environment Special Secretary for proper implementation and monitoring of GRAP rules.

“The task force includes the Special Commissioner of Transport, DCP (HQ) Traffic Police, Deputy Commissioner, Revenue (HQ), Chief Engineers of MCD and PWD. The main work of this task force will be to coordinate daily with the concerned departments and remove the problems faced by them and give the implementation report to the government,” he said after a review meeting at the Delhi Secretariat with the concerned officers to ensure strict compliance with GRAP-IV rules in the city.

The city was engulfed in a thick layer of smog on the night of Diwali and the toxic haze continued the next day following the bursting of firecrackers, despite the Supreme Court order.

However, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data recorded at 8 am on Friday, the air quality in RK Puram was recorded at 461, it was at 454 at New Moti Bagh, 465 at the IGI Airport area and 475 at Nehru Nagar, all in the severe category.

Nine out of 11 state capitals analysed in India recorded higher pollution in the first 12 hours after Diwali celebrations this year as compared to last year. The government’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) tracker analysed PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) data for 11 capital cities.

The highest spike (recorded at 15-minute intervals) was seen in the national capital Delhi. It was 999.5 ug/m3 at Pusa on November 13 at 1:30 am. (ANI)

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Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Disappears Under Blanket Of Smog

With a surge in air pollution levels this time of the year, the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders and the pinnacle of Mughal architecture disappeared under a blanket of smog on Monday morning. The structure was engulfed in a layer of haze and was barely visible to the unaided eyes.

However, this was not the first time, the mausoleum of white marble was hidden amid the pollutants. The city’s air quality level has reeled under the poor category since November 4 and was recorded at an overall air quality index of 256 this afternoon.

As per AQI.IN, the air quality in Agra was recorded as 163, in Aligarh it was at 172, 154 in Bareilly and 170 in Bulandshahr, all in the ‘poor category zone’. The air dropped to the ‘severe category’ in Ghaziabad and Hapur with an AQI of 352 while it remained in the ‘unhealthy category’ in Meerut and Muzzafarnagar with an aqi of 289 and 213.

Built-in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is a jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.

Air pollution levels can be high during the winter months for a number of reasons, including dust and vehicular pollution, dry-cold weather, stubble burning, burning crop residues after the harvest season and commuting.

Cold air is denser and moves slower than warm air, so it traps pollution and doesn’t whisk it away. This means that air pollution in winter remains in place for much longer than during the summer.

Taj Mahal’s marble is discoloured by airborne particulate matter, which is made up of black carbon, light-absorbing brown carbon, and dust.

The current concentration of PM2.5 in Uttar Pradesh is 130 (ug/m3). The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 15 ug/m3 as the threshold concentration of PM2.5 for 24 hours. Currently, the concentration is 5.20 times the recommended limit.

Meanwhile, the overall air quality in the National Capital continued to be in the ‘severe’ category for the fifth straight day, as per the Central Pollution Control Board.

According to the data issued by the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR-India), the air quality in the National Capital was recorded at 488, up from 410 a day ago.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has introduced the odd-even scheme for vehicles plying in the city. Vehicles with registration numbers ending in odd or even numbers will ply on alternate days.

According to doctors, for any healthy person, a recommended AQI should be less than 50, but these days the AQI has spiked beyond 400, which could prove fatal for those suffering from lung-related diseases and even poses a risk of lung cancer. (ANI)

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Arvind Kejriwal Winter Action Delhi Planning Department

Kejriwal To Announce Winter Action Plan To Tackle Air Pollution

The Delhi Government is tightening its grip on air pollution by intensifying its efforts towards implementing a comprehensive plan to combat winter pollution. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will announce the Winter Action Plan on 29 September, according to an official statement of the state government. 

Providing further information, Environment Minister Gopal Rai said in a statement, “We are preparing a Winter Action Plan to curb winter pollution in Delhi on the basis of reports given by the departments. A joint meeting regarding the Winter Action Plan of all the 28 concerned departments was held on September 14 in the Delhi Secretariat and different responsibilities were assigned to the departments. Instructions have been issued to all construction agencies to strictly follow the norms related to dust pollution.”

In the meeting, officers from Environment Department, DPCC, Development Department, Delhi Cantonment Board, CPWD, DDA, Delhi Police, DTC, Revenue Department, DSIIDC, Education Department, DMRC, PWD, Transport Department, NHAI, Delhi Jal Board, DUSIB, NDMC were present. All departments were instructed to submit detailed action plans under the Winter Action Plan to the Environment Department by September 25.

Environment Minister Gopal Rai said, “Keeping in mind the phenomenon of rising pollution in Delhi during winters, the Delhi Government is preparing a ‘Winter Action Plan’. We conducted a high-level meeting of 28 government departments on September 14th in this respect. In that meeting, all the departments were given a unique goal, to be included in the Winter Action Plan.”

He continued, “Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will present this Winter Action Plan in front of the citizens of Delhi on September 29th, 2023. All the government departments will act in unison in the implementation of the Winter Action Plan to curb the rise of pollution in ensuing winters.”

He also said, “Last year, we worked together with all the agencies involved in the construction business in Delhi to keep a noose on pollution. Today, I am appealing to them to follow the norms related to dust pollution. Action would be taken against all those agencies who violate the law. A separate action plan will be made for 13 hotspots to reduce pollution. This time special monitoring will be done on hotspots to reduce pollution.” (ANI)

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Air Quality In NCR

Delhi Suffers Another ‘Very Poor’ Air Day With 337 AQI

Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded on Tuesday at 337 by the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).

According to the SAFAR, Delhi’s air quality was recorded in the ‘very poor’ category on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, the national capital woke up to smog with the Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded at 340 by SAFAR.

The Air Quality Index from 0 to 100 is considered as good, while from 100 to 200 it is moderate, from 200 to 300 it is poor, and from 300 to 400 it is said to be very poor and from 400 to 500 or above it is considered as severe.

Earlier on Sunday, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), a Union government panel recommending steps to control air pollution in the national capital, announced a temporary ban on construction and demolition activities in Delhi-NCR as part of its Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). The announcement came after the air quality in Delhi and the national capital region breached the ‘severe’ category.

The CAQM, which on Sunday chaired a meeting to review the air quality in Delhi-NCR, put out a release saying, “As the AQI in Delhi has slipped into ‘severe’ category, the sub-committee had decided that all actions, as envisaged under Stage III of the GRAP, be implemented in right earnest by all the agencies concerned, with immediate effect in the NCR, in addition to all action under Stage I and Stage II of the GRAP.”

The panel had further observed that the air quality saw a further deterioration over the last 24 hours, with Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index (AQI) at 407 on December 4, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

In its order, the CAQM said it temporarily banned construction activities, “with the exception of Metro Rail services, including stations; airport and inter-state bus terminals; railway services/stations; national security/defence-related activities/ projects of national importance; hospitals/healthcare facilities; linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, overbridges, power transmission, pipelines; sanitation projects like sewage treatment plants and water supply projects; ancillary activities specific to and supplementing above categories of projects”.

Milk and dairy units and those involved in the manufacturing of life-saving medical equipment, drugs, and medicines, were also exempted from the restrictions stipulated in the CAQM order. (ANI)

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Air Quality Delhi

CAQM Lifts Ban On Entry Of Heavy Vehicles To NCR As Air Quality Improves

In view of the improvement in the overall air quality of the Delhi-NCR in the past few days, a Central government panel revoked Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) stage 4, which means that there is no ban on entry of trucks and non-BS 6 diesel light motor vehicles are allowed. But ban on non-essential construction activities which come under GRAP-3 now in force would continue.

The GRAP is an emergency response action plan invoked with a view to arrest further deterioration of adverse air quality scenarios in NCR.
GRAP stage 3 still remains invoked. So, ban on construction and demolition activities in the entire NCR region except for railway services, metro rail services including stations and other essential activities will continue.

According to the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (CAQM), “Under Stage III State Governments in NCR/ GNCTD may impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel LMVS (4 wheelers). Choose a cleaner commute — share a ride to work or use public transport or walk or cycle.”

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai will chair a meeting on Monday to discuss revoking of 50 per cent of work from home and re-opening primary schools after the orders issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (CAQM) today.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry in a statement said, “While comprehensively reviewing the overall air quality parameters of Delhi-NCR, the Commission noted that due to forecast by IMD/ IITM not indicating any steep degradation in the overall air quality of Delhi-NCR in the coming days, it is advisable to relax the restrictions and further roll back Stage IV of GRAP with immediate effect in the entire NCR”.

According to CAQM, the present AQI level of Delhi is around 339 which is about 111 AQI

points below the threshold for invoking the GRAP Stage-IV actions (Delhi AQI > 450) and preventive/ mitigative/ restrictive actions under all Stages up to Stage-IV are underway, there is a likelihood of sustaining the improvement in AQI. The forecast by IMD/ IITM also does not indicate any steep degradation further.

The forecasts also indicated a significant improvement around November 5 and November 6, 2022, therefore, the sub-Committee while invoking Stage IV of the GRAP, decided to review the situation on November 6, 2022. (ANI)

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stubble burning in punjab

CAQM Reviews Implementation Of Directions To Restrict Stubble-Burning In Punjab

Reviewing the status of implementation of measures directed to restrict stubble burning in Punjab, the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) held a meeting with the Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioners of 22 districts of Punjab except Pathankot (no farm fire incidents reported).

The primary focus of the review meeting was to assess the on-ground implementation of directions and reiterate the need for immediate intensification of actions to put a halt to the sudden spike in stubble-burning cases seen in the last few days in Punjab.
The Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioners of the 22 districts of Punjab were reminded of their earlier commitments of drastically bringing the farm fire counts in 2022 as compared to last year.

The Deputy Commissioners of 10 districts namely Amritsar, Barnala, Bhatinda, Firozpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Tarn Taran, and Patiala where more than 1,000 fire counts are reported, were specifically advised to pay special attention and focus on the implementation of the action plan.

During the review meeting, the Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioners of the 22 districts of Punjab assured that they will put their best foot forward to substantially bring down the rising farm fire incidents in Punjab.

They also assured that a decline in stubble-burning incidents is expected to be seen in the coming days.

Stubble burning continued unabated in Punjab with the state reporting nearly 24,000 such cases so far, an official said on Friday.

The incidents of stubble burning have seen a rise in parts of Punjab this year in comparison to last year. However, the area of fields burnt has witnessed a drop of 1 percent so far.

Speaking to ANI over the phone, Senior Environmental Engineer of Punjab Pollution Control Board, Gurbakhshish Singh Gill said that 1,144 incidents of stubble burning have taken place in the state till Thursday and 24,146 such incidents in Punjab.

“We are working in coordination with the government. Efforts are on. Farmers are being sensitised. Our teams are monitoring the situation. We are hopeful of the situation being in our control this time,” he said earlier on Thursday.

He attributed various factors to the deterioration in the Air Quality Index (AQI).

“There are various factors responsible for the deteriorating AQI. Stubble burning is one of them, other is Diwali, transportation and other atmospheric conditions,” he said.

Speaking to ANI on Thursday, Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda, Showkat Ahmad Parray said, “Nearly 1,200 incidents have been reported till now. Last year, it was nearly 900 which has increased this time. But the data that comes to us is not right in itself because there is some period during which the satellite does not capture the incidents. So if there is stubble burning taking place during that period, such incidents are not reported to us,” he said.

Pollution has risen in Delhi where the AQI remained in the ‘severe’ category for the second consecutive day. Stubble burning has contributed to 34 percent of Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution.

On Friday morning the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city jumped to 472. Noida, which is part of the national capital region, recorded an AQI of 562, and continued to remain in the ‘severe’ category, while Gurugram’s AQI stood at 539 and continued to remain in the ‘severe’, as per data released by SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) India.

Air Quality Index from 0 to 100 is considered as good, while from 100 to 200 it is moderate, from 200 to 300 it is poor, and from 300 to 400 it is said to be very poor and from 400 to 500 or above it is considered as severe. (ANI)

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Air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

SC To Hear On Nov 10 Plea On Worsening Air Pollution In Delhi-NCR

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on November 10 a plea seeking measures to curb worsening air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

A bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Bela M Trivedi posted the case for hearing on November 10 after an advocate mentioned the matter for urgent hearing.
Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha, who filed the plea, told the bench that stubble burning has increased in Punjab.

“Parali burning has increased in Punjab. Even normal people can’t walk in such a situation,” Jha argued.

The plea sought direction to summon Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh and directed them to personally take responsibility for no case of stubble burning anywhere.

It sought direction for issuing fresh guidelines to all the States with respect to stubble burning. The plea asked to issue guidelines to each and every State to take necessary measures in order to reduce pollution including the installation of smog towers, plantation drives, affordable public transport, etc.

“Public at large is forced to inhale polluted air and the oxygen filled with smog. Despite the clear orders of this Court to stop stubble burning and construction causing air pollution, there is rampant pollution in the National Capital Territory and other places making it difficult for people to survive,” said the plea adding that the situation is directly against the Right to life of people at large.

The petition said the AQI level on November 3 has been between 440 to 460 across Delhi which as per various sources “affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases”.

An AQI of 400 or higher is considered “severe,” and it can affect both healthy people and those who already have illnesses, it said.

It sought direction for appointing a high-level committee under the chairmanship of a retired Supreme Court judge to tackle the air-pollution crisis due to stubble burning.

The plea further urged that the schools, colleges, government, and private offices go virtual/online in order to protect the life of people at large.

The advocate said that the pollution is caused because states like Punjab have failed to provide an alternative to the farmers against stubble burning.to control pollution. (ANI)

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Delhi: Primary Schools Shuts

Delhi: Primary Schools Shut Till Pollution Improves

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said that primary schools in Delhi will be shut from tomorrow till the pollution situation improves.

“We’re taking all steps to control the pollution situation. In lieu of that, we’re shutting down all primary schools in Delhi from tomorrow… Also shutting down outdoor activities for all classes above class 5,” CM Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal was addressing a press conference here with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann.

“We’re also mulling whether the odd-even scheme for vehicles should be implemented,” Kejriwal said.

The Delhi chief minister also said that now was “not the time for blame game and finger pointing”.

Air Quality in the national capital continued to remain in the “severe” category on Friday, the second straight day.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court today agreed to hear a plea in connection with the Delhi air pollution.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has convened a high-level meeting today to discuss the implementation of curbs on polluting activities under the final stage of the Graded Response Action Plan.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had on Wednesday asked the Delhi government to shut schools till air quality in the capital improves.

The SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) Friday revealed that the stubble-burning contributed 34 percent to Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution.

The air quality in Delhi continued to remain in the ‘severe’ category on Friday morning as the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city jumped to 472. Noida, which is part of the national capital region, recorded an AQI of 562 and continued to remain in the ‘severe’ category, while Gurugram’s AQI stood at 539 and continued to remain in the ‘severe’, as per data released by SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) India.

Air Quality Index from 0 to 100 is considered as good, while from 100 to 200 it is moderate, from 200 to 300 it is poor, and from 300 to 400 it is said to be very poor and from 400 to 500 or above it is considered as severe. (ANI)

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Global Emission Will Peak in 2025

Global Emission Will Peak in 2025: Intl Energy Agency

The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday released its World Energy Outlook 2022 report, which stated that global emissions will peak in 2025.

Based on the latest energy data and market developments, this year’s WEO explores key questions about the crisis, including setbacks for clean energy transitions, government responses on energy markets and possible risks ahead on the path to net zero emissions.

“In the Announced Pledges Scenario (APS), the commitments in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) bring about a faster reduction in emissions: global emissions peak before 2025 and fall to 31.5 Gt CO2 in 2030, which is around 15per cent lower than in the STEPS,” the report said.

IEA energy outlook report’s scenario is based on prevailing policy settings that see a definitive peak in global demand for fossil fuels.

“Coal demand peaks in the next few years, natural gas demand reaches a plateau by the end of the decade, and oil demand reaches a high point in the mid-2030s before falling slightly. From 80per cent today – a level that has been constant for decades – the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix falls to less than 75per cent by 2030 and to just above 60 per cent by mid-century,” the report said.

The World Energy Outlook report states that the global energy crisis sparked by the Ukraine conflict is having far-reaching implications for entire economies, prompting short-term responses from governments as well as a deeper debate about the ways to promote energy security.

“This is a global crisis, but Europe is the main theatre in which it is playing out, and natural gas is centre stage – especially during the coming northern hemisphere winter,” it says.

High energy prices are causing a huge transfer of wealth from consumers to producers, back to the levels seen in 2014 for oil, but entirely unprecedented for natural gas. High fuel prices account for 90 per cent of the rise in the average costs of electricity generation worldwide, with natural gas alone for more than 50 per cent.

“Price and economic pressures mean that the number of people without access to modern energy is rising for the first time in a decade. Around 75 million people who recently gained access to electricity are likely to lose the ability to pay for it, and 100 million people may revert to the use of traditional biomass for cooking,” it says.

The report continues that there remain huge uncertainties over how this energy crisis will evolve and for how long fossil fuel prices will remain elevated, and the risks of further energy disruption and geopolitical fragmentation are high. (ANI)

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