The recent Supreme Court verdict banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR has spurred mixed reactions from the society. On one hand, citizens with environmental awareness are praising the judgment stating that it was something we badly needed to protect nature. On the other hand, the fireworks industry is looking at losses of over ₹1,000 crore and heavy layoffs of workers associated directly and indirectly with the industry.
The data provided by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune also reveals a stark difference in the Air Quality Index during Diwali and post-Diwali days and the other days of the year. Particulate matters like PM2.5 and PM10 shot up after Diwali in 2016. The condition grew worse on the post-Diwali day. So, these facts certainly justify the ban.
On the other hand, we must also consider the 8 lakh manpower associated with the fireworks manufacturing and related industries at Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. The ban would mean axing the already precarious livelihood of these people.
Of course, the firework industry has come under scrutiny due to the deployment of minors in the workforce. Such heinous crimes should be strictly dealt with. But what about the adults working in the industry? A huge chunk of this workforce would be unable to suddenly switch to another industry. This will lead to loss of livelihood and pose another threat to our present economic slowdown.
So, is there any way out?
We all are aware of the firework presentation at Sydney during new year’s eve that exhilarates crowds all across the globe. The sustainability model adopted in this case is a perfect example for us at present. The fireworks are made from biodegradable papers so that the remnants do not pose a threat. The viewers who come to witness the scintillating show are encouraged to walk, use bikes or public transport.
Carbon offsets take care of any remaining residual pollution. Purchasing carbon offsets is a mode of compensation which involves sponsoring various clean and eco-friendly projects. By ensuring these, Sydney’s new year’s eve fireworks display becomes a carbon neutral event.
Now, the point is if Sydney can do it, why can’t Delhi? Is sacrificing public enjoyment the price to be paid for the ineptitude of the administration?
With science and technology making huge strides, we should try to find out solutions to our problems. And the solution cannot be as simple as imposing a ban.