A place in Delhi being called as ‘Oxygen Bar’ lets you breathe fresh oxygen for 15 minutes for Rs. 300. This comes amidst the Delhi becoming the most polluted place on the planet and establishes record-breaking figures on the Air Quality Index.

A 26-year-old Aryavir Kumar launched a new venture in South Delhi’s upscale Select City Walk mall in May 2019. As explained by him, his Oxy Pure “oxygen bar” would offer bursts of fragrant, purified oxygen to clients seeking relief from jet lag, sleep disorders, hangovers and even depression. The bar lets the customer breathe in oxygen mixed with aromatherapy via a nasal cannula.

However, at first, Delhi was not very much enthusiastic about the bar in its initial days. It was until the story took turn post-October when the air pollution crisis altered the reality for everyone and Kumar earned a fortune through the opportunity.

As soon as the pollution levels in Delhi reached hazardous levels, desperate Delhi residents sprinted towards Kumar’s Oxygen Bar to literally ‘take a sigh of relief’.

Kumar’s establishment offers 15-minute sessions starting start Rs. 299 and goes up to Rs. 499, depending upon the kind of aromatherapy or flavour you are choosing.

In a conversation with Scroll, Kumar said, “The first month was slow but we are now making profits.”

 Kumar’s family owns a hospitality company, ‘Clarks Group of Hotels’. The family runs a chain of around 90 hotels across India. Kumar’s motivation to open an Oxygen bar came in 2015 when he visited Los Angeles in 2015 and saw an oxygen bar there. He thought that the idea was smart and unique and he wanted to execute it in India.

Well, his ideology did not go in vain, as the rising pollution levels in North India have compelled people to cover their faces with pollution masks. Kumar’s business has made a good fortune amidst this pollution crisis in Delhi and he is planning to open a new branch of Oxy Pure at Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3. Apart from this, he has also been inundated with calls to start franchises of the bar.

How Does the Bar Serve? 

The clients at the bar strap a tube (known as a cannula) under their nostrils that give them a whiff of oxygenated air. This oxygen is served with a fragrance from a range of choices including peppermint, orange, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lavender, spearmint or lemongrass. The air supplied to the customer’s cannula is generated by an “oxygen concentrating machine”.

Healthy to a Limit

Kumar has sourced the oxygen machine from US Firm called Oxygen Bars, which provides the 95% level of oxygen in gas. However, under normal circumstances, the air humans breathe contains only 20% oxygen. If a human is exposed to extremely high levels of oxygen, then it can cause severe lung damage by running them dry, and in some cases, it can even cause death.

However, as explained by Kumar, the cannula tube is not fixed tightly under the customer’s nose. Thus, the oxygen that they breathe gets mixed with other atmospheric gases & eventually, it reaches a concentration of between 30% and 50%.

This is also another reason why only 15 minutes sessions are provided, to avoid any risk.

As explained by Kumar “This therapy does not cure any diseases. It is purely for rejuvenation like a spa.”

Is it the Beginning of Apocalypse?

I have seen short-films like ‘Karbon’ & other documentary movies, imagining a future where pure oxygen becomes one of the most important things and people are ready to kill each other for even a small can of oxygen.

I don’t mean to say that I am comparing Delhi’s reality with some science fiction movie, but looking at the current scenario, you cannot judge for expecting a future like those in the movie for our national capital.

For the last 3 weeks, Delhi’s air quality has not even once got below the ‘Severe’ mark on the AQI. Currently, many organisations have classified Delhi’s Air as unbreathable and declared a ‘Health Hazard & Public Health Emergency’ in the capital. Schools have been shut down, the government has been formulating policies like Odd-Even to mitigate its effects, construction activities have been banned. But for how long will we be able to hold the pollution virus from spreading into our lungs, when we know that every 2nd activity we do in our daily lives is in some way causing pollution.

Pollution and profit

As per a study conducted by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the air purifier market in India’s residential sector will be valued at around $39 million by 2023. Oxygen bars are a common thing in countries like France and Japan. However, these countries do not have hazardous pollution levels like Delhi.

It is one of the primary reasons, why Kumar believes that the business scope for these outlets could be greater. “Yes, this [oxygen] can be commodified and turned into a business venture. Did we ever think that we would pay for bottled mineral water?” he said.