Experts expect harder action

Neha Basudkar
Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Hemant Agarwal, owner of Agarwal Firecrackers, said, “From several years, the manufacturing of high sound decibel firecrackers including maal (string) and bomb has been reduced, while the sale of less sound decibel firecracker has increased two folds. Overall, there is inflation in the market, but the manufacturing unit and vendors are not affected by it largely. Also, this year, it will be much of colour Diwali than sound Diwali, as most of the firecrackers have colours in it rather than creating loud noise.” 

Pune: On Tuesday (October 23), the Supreme Court refused to put a blanket ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers across the country but said that only ‘green’ firecrackers can be sold which are less polluting. The verdict has attracted negative reactions from city-based environment activists and doctors.

Interestingly, officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) were not interested in discussing the issue.

The Firecracker Association has made it clear that since last three years, the manufacturing of firecrackers with high sound decibels has been reduced and this year, the firecrackers manufacturing units have not manufactured any high sound decibel firecracker. 

Harish Jalan, treasurer of Firecracker Association, said, “A major chunk of firecrackers is manufactured in Tamil Nadu while there are only 50 to 60 manufacturing units in Maharashtra. This issue was being debated by the Central government and environment activists from last several years. Last year, even licenced vendors were banned from selling firecrackers with high decibels. Hence, this year, the units did not manufacture high decibels firecrackers and only focused on making flowerpot, garland, lavangi, rocket, pencil, ground spinner (chakri), sparklers (phuljhadi) and other fancy items.” 
 
Jalan also said that this year, there will be a shortage of sparklers, ground spinners and flowerpots as the southern parts of the country had received heavy rainfall due to which the manufacturing was affected. Now, the demand for these low decibels firecrackers has increased but there is a shortage of these firecrackers.

Hemant Agarwal, owner of Agarwal Firecrackers, said, “From several years, the manufacturing of high sound decibel firecrackers including maal (string) and bomb has been reduced, while the sale of less sound decibel firecracker has increased two folds. Overall, there is inflation in the market, but the manufacturing unit and vendors are not affected by it largely. Also, this year, it will be much of colour Diwali than sound Diwali, as most of the firecrackers have colours in it rather than creating loud noise.” 

Environment activists are happy over the verdict but they do not find any sense in it. Satish Khot, city-based environment activist, said, “It is good that the Supreme Court has delivered a positive verdict. Buying firecrackers is a total waste of money and also, it creates a lot of air pollution causing several health hazards. But I doubt whether these rules and regulations will be followed as we can see the same case with the plastic ban.”

Another city-based environment activist Vikas Patil, said, “When the Supreme Court says that the firecrackers will be allowed to be burnt during Diwali only from 8 pm to 10 pm and respective state pollution control boards will carry out short-term monitoring in their cities, but the question here is that who will monitor that people are burning firecrackers only from 8 pm to 10 pm? The MPCB office in the city does not have enough air monitoring machines, then how are they going to monitor air pollution levels? Despite making such ambiguous rules, the Supreme Court and the government should focus on increasing awareness in youngsters.”

City-based public health expert Dr Sundeep Salvi, who is also the Director of the Chest Research Foundation (CRF), said “It is very unfortunate that the Supreme Court has focused on reducing noise pollution rather than focusing on air pollution. Air pollution is way much harmful than noise pollution. There is no good quality firecracker that causes less pollution. All of them are harmful, irrespective of which firecracker you burn. The worst of all is the snake tablet, which produces 60,000 micrograms per cubic metre of tiny particles (compared to the safety limit of 50), lavangi produces 30,000 micrograms per cubic metre and sparklers produce 15,000 micrograms per cubic metre which is dangerous for the human body. All firecrackers that we tested produced levels way above the safe limits.”

“Levels of sulphur dioxide in the air was recorded  200 times above safety limits. The worrying factors are the rising levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10 in Pune,” Dr Salvi added.

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