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Delhi Is Choking, But Is It Too Late For A Happy Diwali?

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It is that time of the year again, when a handful of people dare to request you, plead you to ‘Avoid Bursting Firecrackers’. The same old banter every year. I know you are tired of reading and hearing this again and again. However, I believe it is my duty to reiterate the same old pleading (supported with some data). Also, geared up with some ready-to-use responses to the forthcoming counter arguments and the hatred against the post, that I can foresee.

Dilli ki sardi is famous in India. Also, Delhi has had the distinction of being one of the most polluted cities in the world. A Greenpeace report claims that all around the year, the Indian metropolis is uninhabitable with respect to air quality. Especially in the winter months from October—January, Delhi becomes a toxic gas chamber. In 2014, Delhi was declared as the most polluted city in the world [WHO; 2014]. Furthermore, these winter months coincide with a religious festival in India, a.k.a Diwali. It is observed that Diwali leads to a statistically significant increase in the level of air pollution in Delhi, mainly because of firecracker burning.

Response to the Counter Arguments :

1. Why Not Such Hype During Animal Sacrifices For Bakri – Eid

First of all, this is not a competition! The whole premise of Bakri-eid is sacrificing a goat in the Muslim religion. If you really care so much about animal rights then let us first acknowledge the damage caused by Indian festivals to the animal kingdom. Every year, thousands of Hindu families bring plaster-of-paris idols painted by synthetic colours, to their homes, offer prayers for days, and then immerse them in the nearest water body. We know very well that these idols do not dissolve in water properly and choke the fish and other water animals to death.

FYI: Populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians have declined by 60% since 1970, according to a report released Monday by the advocacy group World Wildlife Fund. Despite the #SaveTiger campaign and #LetAvniLive campaign, we have killed the tiger Avni. Let us not pretend that we actually care about the wildlife, and let’s stop attacking other religious communities to justify our own acts. We have caused enough damage with our set of innumerous festivals, to the environment already. Moreover, charity begins at home. So please focus!

2. Why Don’t You Stop Construction, Vehicle Emissions And Burning Paddy Husk

Diwali is not the only reason for pollution, Agreed! Governments alone cannot handle everything. Air pollution is a community problem. Moreover, construction of infrastructure and transport for commuting are necessities, bursting crackers is not!

FYI: Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 levels in Delhi are 215 micrograms per cubic meter, i.e. 4 times higher than the acceptable levels. PM-10 levels stands at 370 micrograms per cubic meter i.e four times higher than safe levels. New Delhi is acting on curbing down the air pollution. The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has banned construction. All diesel generator sets, as well as the Badarpur power plant, have already been shut under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). The GRAP will be enforced by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority. Delhi Master Plan 2021 has adopted norms for transit-oriented development to bring people closer to Metro line and encourage walking and cycling to reduce travel distances and pollution.

3. It Is A Matter Of Just One Day. What Is The Big Deal?

Data shows that pollution level during Diwali increases at least by 30%. Experts also said that the crackers contain elements like copper, cadmium, sulphur, aluminium, barium and various others that help in releasing vibrant colours after it is ignited. Once a cracker is burnt, it releases toxic chemicals that remain suspended for long time causing serious health ailments. the heavy metals remain in the atmosphere for long and then get oxidised before entering the food chain through vegetables. India’s air quality was among the world’s worst and between 40% in 2016 and 100% worse in five north Indian cities than at the same time the preceding year, according to global air pollution data and an IndiaSpend analysis.  The crackers burst not only pollutes by contaminating the air, causing noise, but also pollutes the land. We wake up to see garbage littered over the streets with remains of crackers (plastics, papers, boxes, bottles, what not). What is the point of cleaning inside our houses and causing such damage to the environment around us?

We need to make people aware that their activities should not release more emission when our air is already so polluted. It is 2018, and it is high time that people are asked to cut down on all types of ‘customs’ that have unwanted implications.

Reasons For Not Bursting Fire Crackers (In Case You Are Still Not Convinced):

LOGIC: Diwali is India’s festival of lights, NOT smoke! Moreover, why somebody would want to “burn” their hard earned money and in return get all that noise (bad for ears) and those toxic gases (bad for skin/lungs).

LAW: The Central Pollution Control Board has banned fire-crackers with a decibel level of more than 125 at a distance of 4 meters from the bursting point. The Supreme Court of India observing that the pollution levels and “right to peaceful sleep” being a fundamental right of the citizens said only “low polluting” green crackers which are within permitted decibel limits and emission norms will be allowed from 8.00 pm to 10:00 pm only on Diwali day.

LIFE: Air pollution is the greatest contributor for pollution-related deaths globally, according to a major scientific study published in the Lancet. The study finds that globally, pollution for multiple sources contributes to nearly 9 million deaths every year — about 16% of deaths worldwide. New Delhi continues to be plagued by bad air. Life expectancy in New Delhi could go up by 6 years if National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are met.

Here, I rest my case. It is not too late. Please respect the mother nature and humanity!

Say no to fire crackers! Have a Happy Diwali !


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