New Delhi: Come Diwali, air pollution levels in many cities in India cross the danger mark posing huge environmental and health issues. According to the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report, 1.2 million people die every year due to air pollution in India. Last year, due to the ill effects of cracker bursting, the nation’s capital was blanketed under a thick layer of smog which refused to dissipate for quite a few days after Diwali. A National emergency was declared with schools, construction sites and a coal-fired power station being closed for three days.
Away from the national capital region, there were many cities in which the PM 2.5 was at a dangerous mark of 200 – 500. PM 2.5 is the most dangerous type of air pollutant and is about 30 times finer than a human hair. When it is inhaled deep into the lungs, the particulate matter can cause heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and many more health diseases.
In a bid to restrict the rise in air and noise pollution levels, several cities are taking appropriate measures – from ban on the sale of crackers to holding campaigns in schools, colonies and other places in order to guide people on celebrating Green Diwali, cities are doing everything possible.
Here’s how cities in India are gearing up to celebrate Diwali in a green way:
Delhi: Supreme Court has banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region till November 1 in a bid to celebrate Diwali the green way. In addition, many NGOs, schools, individuals are coming forward and pledging to go Cracker Free during this Diwali. Recently, setting an example on how to go green this Diwali, the Guru Harkrishan Public School has pledged to go cracker free and instead of bursting crackers, the students are distributing plant saplings to individuals.
Speaking about the policies undertaken, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi has asked all the citizens to celebrate the festivities sans crackers. Whereas the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has specially written to the department of customs to make sure that harmful imported firecrackers do not make it into the city.
Environment Minister Imran Hussain asked for strict enforcement of directions of the Supreme Court regarding ban on sale of crackers, he has asked the Environment Department to constitute special teams to check on the sale of crackers in various markets in Delhi. He further added, any violation should be reported to the Delhi Police immediately.
Maharashtra: Following the footsteps of Delhi, the Bombay High Court imposed a blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers in all residential areas in Maharashtra. The Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also insisted people to ensure no damage is caused to the environment and the festivity is celebrated in a green and healthy way. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has also directed that only safe and pollutant free firecrackers will be allowed for the celebrations.
Coming to Mumbai, many housing societies like the Panchwan Complex Housing Society in Borivli West have decided to go green, not only have they pledged to go cracker free but have also organised special workshops for people so that they can learn how to make traditional paper lamps, rangolis and ditch the plastic and colourful toxins completely.
From the societies to civic bodies – Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is also insisting people to go green this Diwali, they have adopted a mantra of – This Diwali forget “Crackers”, be “Waste Warriors. The civic body is spreading this green message in an unique creative way, by making rangolis with a strong message.
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Chhattisgarh: The next state which has implemented a ban on firecrackers is Chhattisgarh. The government has imposed a ban on the use of firecrackers with high decibels and those highly contributing to air pollution during Diwali. Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) Chairman Aman Kumar Singh has directed all division commissioners, collectors and superintendents of police to take effective steps in order to ensure restriction on sale and use of high decibel firecrackers in their respective areas.
From States To Cities
The city of joy – Kolkata has directed vendors not to sell any foreign firecrackers, especially Chinese. The reason is simple as those firecrackers are very high sound decibels and have high levels of pollutants. The city municipal bodies have already banned around 90 firecrackers because they contain high levels of pollutants.
In Pune, several schools across the city have pledge not to burn firecrackers during Diwali. Apart from the #CrackerFree campaign, the city is also stocking up the decoration materials that are environmental friendly. Instead of traditional plastic lamps, this year the city market is promoting the idea of paper lanterns. Besides paper lanterns, jute, cloth and metal lanterns are other eco-friendly alternatives that are available in the market
While in Varanasi, a group of Green volunteers, mainly including women are moving from one home to another in a bid to educate people on why it is necessary to celebrate the Diwali in a green way. They also are making children take an oath to celebrate eco-friendly Diwali.
How Bursting Firecrackers Impact The Air We Breathe
According to the analysis done by IndiaSpend, the snake tablet, one of the most popular firecrackers, is burnt for only nine seconds and produces the highest peak of PM 2.5 which is equivalent of smoke from 464 cigarettes. Whereas, the laadi, is burnt for 48 seconds and produces PM 2.5 levels which is equivalent to pollution created by 277 cigarettes.
In India, as many as 1.2 million deaths take place every year due to air pollution, according to the recent report by WHO. Though bursting crackers cannot solely be responsible for air pollution, but, they do lead to high emission of particulate matter in the air which can lead to many health problems, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and premature deaths.