It is really an irony of this nation that using firecrackers has become an inseparable part of celebrations among the people irrespective of their caste, creed or colour, least realizing that these very firecrackers have certainly turned things dark for every individual. Both air as well as noise pollution on account of bursting of fire crackers has reached such levels some time back even the Supreme Court of India issued a ban on using firecrackers on Diwali.
The enormity of harm caused to the environment by the fire crackers can be well gauged from the fact that in order to reverse just one day’s pollution on Diwali, it would take the lifetime of five thousand trees.
The bangs and booms of firecrackers that we love and celebrate are actually pretty damaging to the hearing. While the highest level of noise that the human ear can tolerate without damage is eighty five decibels, the firecrackers have an average noise level of one hundred and twenty five decibels. As such there are plenty of cases of lost or damaged hearing on or after festive days when firecrackers explode everywhere.
Moreover, firecrackers primarily contain sulphur and carbon besides chemicals added to act as binders, stabilizers, oxidizers, reducing agents and colouring agents and last but not the least, in order to create the multi-coloured glitter effect the colours are made up of antimony sulphide, strontium, barium nitrate, aluminium, copper, lithium, etc. On release in the air these chemicals reducing the air quality drastically.
During the past few years the northern cities of the nation face immense fog and smog soon after Diwali celebrations thus increasing the pollution level exponentially. It is pertinent to mention here that children are more susceptible to the ill effects of this type of pollution as compared to adults which is a matter of great concern.
The society today needs to realize that for the sake of our own health as well as that of our children we need to think twice before using firecrackers on auspicious events for celebrations. It was in this regard that the Supreme Court only the other day urged the Central Government and cracker companies to find a way to manufacture crackers which do not cause pollution.
Being well seized of the effects of blanket ban imposed on fire crackers on the livelihood of lakhs of persons working in cracker factories across the nation, the Bench presided by Justice AK Sikri rightly remarked, “We need to find a way out to ensure pollution free crackers and at the same time ensure that the livelihood of factory workers is not affected.” The apex court was informed by Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan appearing for the petitioners that there is such technology already prevalent in some countries including Denmark.
Last October, the Supreme Court had directed a partial ban on the manufacture and sale of polluting firecrackers, in a plea to ban the manufacture, sale, and possession of firecrackers across the country, given the rising levels of pollution in the country. While the Court declined to issue a blanket ban as sought for, it directed that only low-emission, green crackers may be manufactured and sold. It had also passed directions to regulate the use of crackers, including the imposition of time slots during which firecrackers may be used.
While the judiciary and the executive are playing an appreciative role in finding out a balanced solution to this health related issue, it is time for the people of the world’s largest democracy to realize the gravity of situation and play a proactive role in ensuring that the use of fire crackers is minimized to the tolerable level. After all it is a matter of our health and that of the future generations.
Ramesh Mohan Zutshi