Its just one week to Diwali, and everyone is already excited about buying new clothes, sweets, greeting cards, lanterns, gifts, crackers ……. hhmmm ….. crackers …. lets get straight to the point.
Is Diwali all about shooting rockets in the air, lighting 'anars' and 'chakris' and blasting bombs? Do we even give a thought to what happens to the ecology after we blow away loads of money on crackers?
One Diwali night causes as much damage to the ecology as regular pollution does over the span of a year. The heavy smog full of sulphur nitrates, magnesium, and nitrogen dioxide can be felt even days after Diwali is over. Thousands of people, mostly kids, get injured while bursting crackers every year. Not to forget the tons of toxic garbage strewn around on the day after Diwali, which is mind numbing. Approximately 8,000 additional metric tonnes of garbage was released in Mumbai alone last year.
Also there are thousands of under privileged kids who sit late into the night manufacturing crackers which are made using harmful chemicals and acids. These kids work from morning to night, breathing these harmful fumes and coming into constant skin contact with the chemicals. They burn their hands, legs and eyes, and many get maimed for life. The conditions they work in are inhumane and the compensation, pitiful.
Does that mean we just stop bursting crackers during Diwali? No, but we can surely deal with it in a more considerate manner. Instead of every family spending thousands of rupees on crackers, we can have societies/schools hold public display of fireworks. This can be done on school grounds, playgrounds or open areas where it’s safe to burst crackers. Care should be taken to avoid noisy crackers and first aid should be always around. In this way we can enjoy crackers but avoid exploitation of the ecology.
It’s high time we remember Diwali is a festival of lights and not of pollution!!