Delhi Environment Minister Launches Anti-Cracker Campaign Ahead of Diwali
Primarily a Hindu festival, almost every Indian celebrates Diwali, a day symbolising the victory of good on evil. While the Festival of Lights brings joy, it also brings air and noise pollution to the Indian subcontinent, especially to the national capital region. Owing to the persistent rise in air pollution levels in Delhi NCR, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has launched an anti-cracker campaign ahead of Diwali.
The minister urged the Delhiites to avoid bursting firecrackers – which sort of has become a customary way of celebration over the years – as much as possible this Diwali. The firecracker bursting not only impacts public health but severely harms the environment as well.
Rai launched an “anti-cracker” campaign and inspected several places to ensure that only green (environmentally-friendly) firecrackers are being manufactured and sold in the city.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), all district magistrates, and the Delhi Police have been ordered to ensure the sale and purchase of green firecrackers only. Authorities have also been directed to ensure that traders procure green firecrackers from the authorised manufacturers.
Given the city’s air pollution records, the Supreme Court in 2018, prohibited the use of polluting firecrackers and allowed the sale of green firecrackers. These so labelled “green crackers” are not as polluting as the conventional firecrackers and they contain at least 30 percent less particulate matter such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
The CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute was assigned with the task of developing “green crackers”. However, last year, only a few varieties of these environmentally-friendly firecrackers were available in the market owing to licensing requirements.
Earlier, the DPCC issued a guideline stating that “only licensed traders can sell firecrackers compliant with PESO (Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation) prescribed standards. No e-commerce websites can accept any online orders”.
The guideline also said that people can burst firecrackers between 8 pm and 10 pm only on festivals like Diwali and Gurupurab. On Christmas Eve and New Year Eve, this timeline will shift to 11:55 pm till 12:30 am.
Delhi has been battling with severe air pollution for over a decade, which rises to injurious levels in winters and during the festivities. The customary stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana every year exacerbates Delhi air pollution levels.
Given the situation, the anti-cracker campaign of Delhi makes sense but begs the question of how much implementation will be observed in the coming next week.