It is common folly that when taking on something calamitous, people pick on relatively small offenders. Asking for an end to bursting crackers during Diwali could be one of those superfluities.
These days it is no longer enough to talk of the “polluted weather”. We are now becoming accustomed to the “polluted climate”, which is all-pervasive. Pollution is now global and is present all year round. Given this preponderant reality, how far is it logical to just select Diwali and tell people, including the children, whom it would hurt the most, that since Diwali is environmentally degrading, we should not celebrate it at all, or at least not with crackers? No doubt it is polluting, but how long does the pollution last? Two days, maybe. Does anyone remember its “evil impact” after that? All the talk of pollution then meanders into things that actually go into the making of this foul climate. What Diwali does is at best a minor add-on to pollution.
Read: High-level meeting at 1pm to tackle spiking air pollution: Delhi deputy CM
I, for one, have been hearing of pollution from the 1970s. But nowhere was Diwali seen as a culprit. This was a festival that was the last before the annual examinations came in November. We remember buying crackers at least three days before they were burst. In Calcutta, where I spent my early days, Kali Puja, which comes a day before Diwali, is the festival celebrated. And so is Diwali. So for the people of that city, Diwali is a two-day or, if you include bhai-duj, a three-day festival. And the thread that ran through all the three was the pleasing, crackling sound of fireworks. Nowadays children have less and less space to play and enjoy. So why take away from them the day they love? Moreover, asking for a stop to bursting crackers is to stop being part of a living history that goes back 150 years at least. Many accounts of old cities are full of soul-lifting discussions how Diwali or Kali Puja tugged at the heart-strings of people.
Read: As Delhi chokes yet again on Diwali, who is to blame for its toxic air?
Academic studies, including the ones from IITs, have proved beyond doubt that in urban areas the commonest sources of pollution are vehicles and construction. And they seem intractable problems. The courts have tried to give some palliative measures, and so have the governments. But the efforts, given the enormity of the problem, have been mostly ineffectual. And worse, people have not been very cooperative when the matter called for a bit of sacrifice on everybody’s part. Some would say in this people’s livelihoods might be affected. Well, then why should Diwali alone be blamed?
Next comes the big thing about politics that no democracy can do without. And it is turning a blind eye to a phenomenon, which has now been made illegal, or not so legal, by executive decree. How long this has been going on for I cannot tell but for the past several years the burning of the paddy straw and ground stubble in Punjab and Haryana after the harvest is held up as a factor in pollution in Delhi. And with the elections in Punjab due next years, and with the farmers being a powerful lobby, elections or no elections, who would dare implement the government order of taking punitive action against the burning of stubble?
Polluting factories along the river Ganga taint not just the environment but the river too. As is well known, the Ganga Action Plan, started in 1986, was not very successful and was withdrawn in 2000. A parliamentary committee report two years ago said in all Rs 2.2 lakh crore had been expended over 32 years on cleaning up the river, which takes in more than 2,000 million litres of waste a day, discharged by factories. What has been the movement on this? Precious little.
Against these giants, the harm done by Diwali is not even a drop in the ocean. Why not let it stay in the interests of our children?
Please refer to Is Diwali transforming from the festival of light & joy to the festival of pollution & destruction? : Diwali special for more details on the ill effects of crackers & the consequences of global warming.
After a year of waiting, Diwali arrived. Everyone’s house would be lighted up with lamps & joy. Almost everyone loves celebrating Diwali. Though I’m an atheist, I also like this festival as it lights up the world. But along with bit happiness for the arrival of Diwali, I get lots of worry every year. Whatever you say, Diwali, along with bunch of other festivals & functions, are tagged with some key words – crackers, pollutions, global warming & noise. However we celebrate this Diwali; we can’t remove these tags from the festival.
I remember last year I had posted a post on why not to use crackers in Diwali & other festivals. Do you remember that? It was – Is Diwali transforming from the festival of light & joy to the festival of pollution & destruction? : Diwali special. In that post, I had explained in details how firecracker, which is generally ignored as the cause of global warming, is affecting our climate & contributing to global warming. I don’t know if you’ve stopped using cracker by reading that post. Or even if you’ve ever gone through it completely!! But whether one ignores its bad effects or not, it’ll certainly contribute to the world climate change, & the unfortunate fact is that we can easily stop using crackers without any problem & reduce CO2 emission, but despite this, we’re wasting millions on it every year without any meaning & hurting the planet.
As the world is getting more & more educated & civilized, we’re doing more & more meaningless & uncivilized works. Today, using cracker is becoming a fashion. Millions are spent on this worthless garbage stuff. Bursting crackers is turning to a competition & a status indicator. Many people feel proud to show off their wealth by investing thousands or even lakhs on this non-sense stuff. Though I’ve used Diwali here as it’s a major event in India when considerable amount of crackers are used, in almost every event today, we wildly use crackers. I really don’t understand why even educated persons do not understand the ill effects of global warming. It’s a SHAME on our education.
Many of you may think why I am behind crackers so much. The reason is that crackers are something which, if we don’t use, will not affect our daily lives anyway. It’s nothing more than garbage. Then, why to use such a thing & hurt the entire planet & ourselves?
It is estimated that the annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fireworks is 60,340 tons or the same emissions from 12,000 cars on the road for a year!! If one suggests that planting trees is a solution, then, please be informed that it’d take the entire lifetime of 5,000 trees to offset the 60,000 tons of carbon emissions produced in this one day!! Not only it pollutes the environment, it also causes many deadly air-borne diseases. It releases carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide to the atmosphere with serious health hazards.
Despite knowing all these things, why to use crackers? As discussed in Is Diwali transforming from the festival of light & joy to the festival of pollution & destruction? : Diwali special, other sources of global warming are those which are important for our living or to fulfill our basic needs. Most of the causes of global warming are energy producers without which we can’t live. In fact, researches are going on on producing eco-friendly energy sources. When we’re uniting together to save this planet from global warming, then, why to put this garbage stuff in the equation?
The only condition for using crackers is the eco-friendly, carbon free, noiseless crackers which don’t affect us anyway. Still, it’s economically a waste, as it gives only ashes, & its prices are soaring up.
However you describe the ill effects of crackers, every time you’d get something very bad or simply, worst. Crackers are unnoticeably affecting all of us. We should understand what it’s doing & how it’ll threaten our very existence in future. Governments should take it very seriously & should:
- ban the production of crackers
- enforce laws on its production, sales, use, & advertisement
- popularize the idea of not using crackers among public
There’re a lot of causes of global warming & pollution. All the other sources are important for our living despite their ill effects. But cracker is absolutely nothing more than garbage. Be smart, be civilized, use your knowledge, don’t worry about what others think, don’t care about society, & DON’T USE CRACKER.
With all these, wish you all a happy Diwali. Celebrate Diwali & all the other festivals & events in eco-friendly way without using crackers. Share this message with others & contribute towards a safer & healthier earth.
Copyright©2011-12 Sandeep Deva Misra
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