Mumbai: This Diwali use crackers with low emission levels and that too can only be burst between 8pm and 10pm, said Supreme Court while setting some restriction on the use of firecrackers this Diwali. Every year the onset of winter sees an increase in air pollution, further aggravated by bursting of crackers during festivals like Diwali. Last year, despite a ban in Delhi, the air quality dropped to ‘severe’ category during Diwali in many parts of the country. This year, striking a balance between right to livelihood of makers of firecrackers and right to health of over 1.3 billion people in the country, the apex court steered clear of a blanket ban. The Supreme Court has disallowed the use of ‘Ladi’ or stringed firecrackers, only the ones that are within noise pollution limits set in July 2005 verdict and crackers that pollute less have been allowed for this year.
What Are Eco-Friendly Or Green Firecrackers?
Firecrackers being explosive in nature contains ingredients such as flash powder, cordite, black powder that are harmful to the environment. These release enormous amounts of smoke that pollute the air. Apart from smoke, regular crackers also contain Strontium, Barium and other harmful metals which release toxic gases.
Among the 40 types of crackers, the Supreme Court has banned crackers that contain Barium Nitrate (green coloured-fireworks). This type is extremely toxic for children and elderly as it these cause respiratory problems and its radioactive elements can lead to gastrointestinal problems and muscular weakness. Red coloured strontium firework, which have also been prohibited, can cause lung cancer and asthma.
Also Read: Air Pollution Not Confined To Delhi Alone, It Has Become A National Health Emergency: Experts
Crackers that emit less harmful particles have nitrogen-rich nitrocellulose that produce less smoke and harmful gases are certified as eco-friendly crackers. However, such crackers do not exist in India and at present the government is exploring the options.
Gopal Sankaranarayanan, a lawyer who represented one of the petitioners, said the exemption for ‘green’ firecrackers meant little considering that India doesn’t have any such crackers. He also noted that government in its affidavit has mentioned that they are exploring the eco-friendly options.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA), has said that they would file a review petition in the Supreme Court post Diwali as one of the banned cracker will affect their business.
We will be filing a review petition in the Supreme Court after Diwali against its order banning the usage of Barium salts in manufacture of firecrackers which would affect nearly 40 per cent of the industry’s production, K. Mariappan, General Secretary, TANFAMA told IANS.
Also Read: Air Pollution: What Is Being Done About The Sources That Continue To Pollute Delhi, Ask Experts
Experts Cite Health Concerns, Express Apprehensions About The Ban
Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha said there was no such thing as an environmentally safe firework and critised the court order.
Your one decision to allow sale and use of firecrackers in current times, while half of our country turns into a gas chamber, will kill toddlers, children and elderly, Mr Jha said in a tweet.
Down down Supreme Court. Your one decision to allow sale and use of firecrackers in current times, while half of our country turns into a gas chamber, will kill toddlers, children and elderly. You are complicit. Right to livelihood vs Right to Life and right to breathe.
— Vimlendu Jha विमलेंदु झा (@vimlendu) October 23, 2018
Commenting on the ban on online sales of firecrackers Greenpeace campaigner Sunil Dahiya said that the on-ground implementation may be difficult considering that the firecrackers are already available in most parts of the country. New Delhi alone accounts for nearly half of India’s demand for firecrackers although Diwali is celebrated across the country.
“This decision should have come earlier because manufacturers are ready with all kinds of firecrackers and it will be very hard to stop them,” he said.
Meanwhile Vijay Panjwani, advocate for Central Pollution Control Board called the Supreme Court’s verdict as ‘not strict’ and told ANI,
Supreme Court’s orders are not very strict. We were expecting complete ban but that has not happened. Firecrackers will be allowed but there is time restriction as it will be allowed between 8 pm to 10 pm. All state pollution boards and Central Pollution Control Board will regulate and measure the particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 in air, 7 days ahead of Diwali and 7 days after Diwali.
Supreme Court's orders are not very strict. We were expecting complete ban but that has not happened. #firecrackers will be allowed but there is time restriction as it will be allowed between 8 pm to 10 pm: Vijay Panjwani, advocate for Central Pollution Control Board (ANI) pic.twitter.com/w16b9GmNIT
— NDTV (@ndtv) October 23, 2018
Dr Randeep Gulaeria, Director of AIIMS Delhi says firecrackers are ‘silent killer’ and aggravates the air pollution situation every year.
People are quick to refute the fact that firecrackers lead to health problems. But they are a silent killer, and this can be said based on the number of cardiovascular cases that rise during and after Diwali each year. We have recorded an increase in number of the hospital visits each year and even seen people with respiratory and lung problems leave Delhi during Diwali to avoid the health risks, he says.
Given that air pollution levels are already at a worrisome level in North India, experts are expressing concern over implementation difficulties of the current Supreme Court order. The concern is that yet again India is headed for a happy but unhealthy Diwali.
Also Read: India’s Firecracker Making Hub Sivakasi Sees 15% Drop In Business After SC Order To Ban Firecracker Sales In Delhi-NCR
With inputs from Agencies
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.