The Supreme Court recently banned the selling of crackers, and it has become a topic of debate across the nation, particularly in Delhi. On account of the ban, a plethora of questions and suspicions are hovering in people’s mind. People are wondering if firecrackers are the main cause behind pollution.
A ‘ban’ is considered to be a very harsh word as it implies forcing without a consensus and therefore doesn’t resonate much. But sometimes we need children (three toddlers in this case) to make us think about a cultural use of such a harmful product.
While some of us are more engrossed in putting politics, religion and other irrational logic to blindfold ourselves, we are also the same people who were complaining last Diwali. The whole system was disturbed- schools were closed for 3-4 days, traffic was affected, air pollution level raised and people were unable to breathe.
A pollution free Diwali does not make us any less Hindu or more. It affects all communities, equally. The festival gets its name from Deepa+avali i.e. rows of clay lamps that we light outside our homes which symbolises the victory of good over evil.
This is not a case of religion. There are people, incessantly communalizing the issue, claiming other practices like the slaughter of goats on Eid to be equally bad. Comparing firecrackers with other festivals is absolutely bizarre. We are free to fight against anything that is causing harm to the environment. Fortunately, the Supreme Court is not communal yet.
I am a Hindu, and I know my religion teaches me sensitivity and tolerance. I think it is a high time we should start thinking beyond ourselves.
Although they may not be the only cause, we can’t deny that they are not a major one.According to a 2014 study, ‘Potential Impact of Fireworks on Respiratory Health’ in Lung India a peer-reviewed journal of the Indian Chest Society, clearly showcased that the exposure to high levels of air pollution cause the occurrence of respiratory problems among adults.
Another supporting report published in 2007, ‘Recreational Atmospheric Pollution Episodes: Inhalable Metalliferous Particles from Firework Displays’ published in Atmospheric Environment, demonstrates how children are vulnerable to toxic gases in particular since their defences against particulate matter and other gaseous air pollutants are weak. Also, children engaged in greater physical activity increases the intake of polluted air into their lungs.
The toxics in these pollutants may cause severe damage to the eyes, lungs, heart and brain whereas, in the long term, the pollutants can affect our lungs and cause other metabolic disorders. For a minute of pleasure can we afford such losses to our health and the health of our loved ones?
Apart from the damage caused by pollution, the firecracker industry is also quite unregulated. It’s known that children are often employed in the industry and that dangerously affects their health. The high concentration of ammonia, sulphur and nitrate lead to health hazards among them.
This ban would be called off post-November 1 and I believe that despite the ban there will be instances of burning crackers. The irony is that while I am writing this article, I can hear loud noises of crackers bursting right outside my house. I wonder why we as active citizens of the country, can’t choose responsibly and make our environment and our lives better.