It’s bad when a single country alone is home to the nine out of the ten most polluted cities in the world. It’s even worse when it turns out to be our own country. We’ve been breathing in the adulterated air for so long that it has become a comfortable norm now. We blithely continue to go on with our lives while the air quality drops. But some intended to change it this time with the use of crackers.
The SC Verdict
As Diwali is nearing and so are the potential black clouds of harmful gases, some environmentalists and lawyers decided to file a petition for a nationwide complete ban on the crackers at this year’s grand festival. But, then people in firecracker business appealed the Supreme Court against it for it is the source of their livelihood. Finally, the Supreme Court took the middle ground considering the firecracker manufacturers’ fundamental right of livelihood as well as the health of over 1.3 billion people. The apex court on October 23 decided in the favour of using only green crackers with further restrictions on their bursting time, their purchasing, and more.
What are All the Restrictions?
Instead of bringing a blanket ban, the court imposed a number of conditions, listed as follows:
1. The crackers can be burst on Diwali but only from 8 pm to 10 pm.
2. ‘Ladis’ are completely banned this time.
3. Firecrackers will be sold only by the licensed vendors.
4. Crackers will not be sold online (Sorry, no crackers on Amazon this time). If any website is found doing so, it’ll be subjected for contempt.
5. Crackers only with reduced emission and decibel levels as set by the July 2005 verdict are to be manufactured and sold.
But That’s Not the Whole Story
The restriction on time frame to burn crackers is not limited to the day of Diwali only. Later, on Christmas and New Year, too, crackers can be burst only between 11:55 pm and 12:30 am. Secondly, the directions for crackers given by the top court are imposed on all the festivals and functions, like birthdays, weddings etc.
Further, the court has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to monitor the quality of air, both 7 days before and after Diwali. The undesirable change in the levels might further lead to more restrictions.
And, for Delhi-NCR regions, only the designated community areas are allowed for cracker bursting.
The Ultimate Question: Will It Help?
Besides all the cracker curtailing and sizeable killing of joy for people, will the verdict actually be able to address the fundamental problem of pollution? Let’s see.
Mass burning of crackers at Diwali makes the levels of PM2.5 and PM10 rise considerably high. These are the main constituents of pollution on this day. Plus, crackers’ barium salt content releases poisonous gases and aluminium content causes skin problems. The green crackers brought to the table this time cause lower emission by 30-35% of PM2.5 and PM10 than the regular crackers. In addition, they also have the low content of aluminium and ash & barium salt is completely absent in them. Basically, all the ‘bad’ content of the regular crackers is toned down in the green ones. So, yes it does help in mitigating the pollution problem.
Secondly, the time window of only 2 hours for cracker bursting will undeniably bring down the pollution levels.
Thirdly, the number of cracker vendors are reduced, as only licensed ones can sell them. Moreover, online purchasing can’t be done. So, less purchasing will lead to less burning, and ultimately to less pollution.
However, it will also mean fewer celebrations. But, less is better than none, which could be our sad reality down the road if we don’t curb on our cracker lust.
How do you feel about the whole situation? Is it unfair and did the SC go over the board in curbing our crackers as well as our fun? Do tell us in the comment section below.