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STOP BLAMING FIRECRACKERS FOR YOUR FAILURES

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The governments have devised laws for air pollution, water pollution, protection of general environmental and biodiversity safeguard. But the laws have not been backed by real executive action on the ground. Ever since the CPCB and SPCB were created under the Water Act – the wholesomeness of the environment has declined in all parts of the country. India has the most polluted cities in the world and their numbers keep on rising year after year. The key cause that has killed the air of our cities is vehicular pollution towards which there seems a complete apathy of the government.

Diwali the Festival of Lights has always been marked with celebratory firecracker busting. Entire Country celebrates that. However, use of firecrackers has been banned since last few years on presumption that it increases air pollution. Banning of firecracker busting on Diwali on the pretext that it increases air pollution not only hinders the joy of millions but also hurts religious sentiments. Its pertinent to note that the Supreme Court has reiterated it many times that ban is not a solution. So instead of imposition of a ban we should think of a solution which works for people and environment both.

The governments have devised laws for air pollution, water pollution, protection of general environmental and biodiversity safeguard. But the laws have not been backed by real executive action on the ground. Ever since the CPCB and SPCB were created under the Water Act – the wholesomeness of the environment has declined in all parts of the country. India has the most polluted cities in the world and their numbers keep on rising year after year. The key cause that has killed the air of our cities is vehicular pollution towards which there seems a complete apathy of the government. 

Farm fires or stubble burning in the region continue to be a conundrum. A fraction of money is required in R&D to find affordable and scalable solutions. Same can be done to find alternatives to pollution causing fire crackers but there is no such focus of the governments or the industries. For example, when the wrath of Covid turned towards mankind, we were able to find solutions – masks, surgery kits, sanitizers, economic and high performance ventilators and vaccines. Firecrackers are attached with the festivals, culture and celebratory practices. It reflects the sentiments of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and many more. It will take a fraction of resources in R&D to develop zero or minimal polluting crackers but the state should first have the will to initiate it.  

Despite an evolved environmental jurisprudence, the polluting industries and sectors are not penalised or penalty is such that it doesn’t bother the industry. State’s blanket bans on firecrackers is no solution. They forget that firecrackers are used on multiple occasions throughout the year - New Year, sports events, carnivals and so on. The travesty is that even the green crackers were banned in the national capital. 

There is also a message for the elders to mend their ways to allow the millions of children of the country and millions not yet born to celebrate the great festivals without hindrances. Sustainable lifestyle of a citizen will sustain the earth, not a ban on firecrackers. It's time to control or give up air conditioners, hoard to purchase automobiles, excessive clothing and chemicals; basically it's time to stop mimicking the American or European lifestyle. Delhi’s air remains poor for 365 days of a year – don’t slap your failure on crackers.

A recent study has said that a person living in the metros of India loses 9 years of life expectancy due to air pollution – doesn’t it say the efficacy of the policies of the country and the policy makers? Firecrackers have been part of the Indian culture for thousands of years; it’s a misplaced argument that they are the reason behind India’s air pollution, problem lies elsewhere.

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