Celebrate Diwali in a Noise-Free, Eco-Friendly Way
“Let us fill our homes with prayers and lights, and NOT with fumes and crackers. Avoid the celebration which is not pro for ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH, OTHER LIVING CREATURES. Come, let us celebrate Eco-Friendly Deepavali 2016. Bursting of crackers is not safe for the Environment and Health. Bursting of crackers near Hospitals, Old-Age Homes are strictly prohibited, and crackers emitting sound more than 125 decibels should be prohibited. Bursting of crackers strictly prohibited between 10 pm and 6 am”- CM Siddaramaiah, Minister Ramanath Rai, and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.
Mangaluru: Many of you might have seen the above such advertisement for the last few years, and again this ad from the Karnataka Pollution Control Board has appeared in many national dailies and websites- but seems like no one is caring about the warning and no one is taking action against those who ignore these warnings. So what good is it to spend money on awareness ads, if people simply ignore them, and also that law enforcement authorities don’t give a damn about it. As of last night, loud noises of fireworks are already in the air, and people have been bursting crackers past 10 pm the curfew time.
Last time when I wrote an article “Damaging Swachh M’luru! Streets Layered with Firecrackers Waste” which was published on our website dated 11 October 2016, one of our ardent reader posted this comment stating, ” Mr. Alphie, why such an article only for Dussehra or Deepavali, why not at the time of Christmas or other festivals. Don’t people burst crackers for Christmas or at the time of Id or do you mean to say, you sweep the road once your festivities or processions are over. Please have the patience to wait till December Sir. I will send you the videos and pictures of the streets in and around Kadri, Bendoorwell, Bikarnakatte. I believe in all communities. I celebrate Deepawali, Dasehra, do celebrate Christmas and Id with my friends but I don’t hurt the sentiments of any community just for the sake of news headlines. When you stay in a glass house, never try to throw a stone at others”.
For the kind information of this person, I am not the only one that is trying to bring awareness about the use of loud fireworks, especially bombs, firecrackers etc in the interest of safety hazards, safe environment and Health. The Chief Minister, Minister of Forest, Ecology and Environment, many Animal Rights Activists, many social organizations and many other prominent writers have raised their voices against the use of fireworks that harm the Environment, Health and other living creatures. I was not trying to hurt the sentiments of Hindu people during Hindu festivals only, I was only trying to bring awareness about noise pollution and smoke pollution that will ruin the atmosphere and also the health of humans and animals. My last article about fireworks is for everyone irrespective of caste, creed or religion- may they be Hindus, Muslims or Christians-Laws should be followed by everyone irrespective of caste or religion. Period.
Even though the law says no bursting of firecrackers near hospitals, old-age homes etc, and no bursting of crackers past 10 pm til 6 am, and in spite of this message conveyed through advertisement in many dailies, but it seems like no one is adhering to these laws or warnings. Like Police Commissioner, Chandra Sekhar had said that people are feared about the laws, not fear about the cops, you see people breaking the laws. But nothing much has been done to rectify this issue. For example, there is a celebration around the Kadri temple vicinity, there has been loud music and even fireworks displayed past the prohibited time – for the fact there are three hospitals close by- namely City Hospital, Tejaswini Hospital and Vijaya Nursing Home- but no one has taken any precautions.
Alas, the festival of light has been mutated so much that “diya” gradually got replaced by candles and candles eventually replaced electric lamps and glitters. We are pacing up the ladder of modernization so fast that we are not even realizing that in this rat race we also picked up many other trends which are now eating up the entire ecosystem. The festival of light and prosperity has now become a festival of noise, hazards, accidents and choked up atmosphere.
I feel that there is NO .. absolutely NO reason left to keep the cracker culture still up. Time has changed and it is calling us to change as well. India (or world) 100 years ago is not the same. The environment with various kinds of pollutants in it has become like a ticking time bomb which is ready to explode any day. And before I proceed with the answer in detail I would say that it is not about Diwali or Hindus. It is about every Indian. It’s about every Indian because festivals are just an excuse. We light up crackers on every Indian festival including new year.
As a responsible generation, we should think about preserving our environment so that the generations to come can enjoy and live the way we are living. So that the generations to come do not end up cursing us for being selfish. There are many ways of looking at this ticking time bomb issue but I will try to enumerate as many as possible.
Crackers that make a noise of more than 125 decibels at four metres distance from the point of bursting are banned by the law. Given here are the hazards posed by excessive noise pollution caused by crackers: Hearing loss, high blood pressure, heart attack and sleeping disturbances. Sudden exposure to loud noise could cause temporary deafness or permanent relative deafness. Crackers create noise pollution up to 170 decibels. It is shocking because the ideal or normal level of sound of firecrackers must be below or around 80 decibels. Which means that the crackers available in the market are almost twice as loud as what they should be. ENT specialists claim that damage to ear membranes due to a sound explosion which has an intensity greater than 100 decibels is often irreversible.
Air pollution levels in big cities are appalling at the best of times and are a growing cause for concern. The Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) – dust, fumes, smoke, and gasses – is way above permissible limits in many of our big cities. This level sees a quantum jump during festivals, the main culprits being crackers, inflammable substances, and artificial colors. Air pollution can lead to lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and allergies in adults. It can also cause acute respiratory infections in children. Suspended particulate matter can cause asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases
Sources reveal that- Sulfur dioxide can damage lungs and lead to lung disorders like wheezing and shortness of breath. Oxides of Nitrogen can cause skin problems, eye irritation, and cause respiratory problems in children. Chemicals used in crackers like lead, magnesium, cadmium, nitrate, sodium, and others can have various harmful effects.
Animals have a far sharper sense of hearing than the humans, the noise of crackers has a terrifying effect on them. Fireworks generate a noise level higher than the noise from gunshots and low-level flying jets. For animals, fireworks are no cause for celebration. Firework displays and celebrations bring confusion, anxiety, and fear into the animals, whether they are on the streets, in the farms or as pets in our house. Just like many other pet owners, I too have very much concern towards my five dogs who have already felt the brunt of the fireworks set by nearby residents, and since these dogs are already in fear, I have to put them inside the house throughout the night till the wee hours when the ignorant neighbours stop firecrackers past the prohibited time to use fireworks.
Children and even adults in excitement often forget that these crackers are really hazardous. The smoke of fireworks consists of toxic dust (particulate matter up to 10 micrometers in size) that easily enter the lungs and represent a real danger for those already sick as well as for the healthy. Those most affected are children, the elderly, and those sensitive individuals with respiratory conditions. When you inhale smoke from firecrackers, it enters your breathing tube. The chemicals in the smoke irritate the breathing tube, causing inflammation (swelling). Careless and reckless handling of fireworks causes burn injuries of various degrees. As an estimate, minor or major injuries resulting from crackers on the diwali increase as much as 200% during the Diwali week.
The property damage can be viewed in two ways- Direct – Reckless fireworks often lead to damage to house or cars. This damage could be really frightening as many insurance companies do not pay for property damage due to carelessly induced fire; Indirect – Lighting crackers on Diwali is like lighting fire to money. It is like you buy crackers worth thousands of rupees and then you set it on fire. Enjoy its noise and sparkle and its gone in the air forever.
Overspending by consumers:
In a country where every 1 out of 3rd Indian lives below poverty line, it is really very depressing to see that on this day the consumerism enthusiasm in India reaches to its limit. The festival of light and prosperity now has become a festival of power display. The consumers are in a race of buying the most powerful, expensive and flamboyant fireworks. Sometimes parents buy even beyond their spending capacity to make their children happy.
It is noted that every breath toxic, as per research, the air pollution level is at its worst during the five days of Diwali. The quality of air takes a nosedive owing to toxic fumes from fireworks. As per the National Air Quality Index, the air pollution in and around cities like Delhi is six times the safe limit during and after Diwali. The smog continues to persist for more than 10-12 days after the festival. Breathing in such an atmosphere is dangerous for those suffering from pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, and even normal healthy people.
As per an author who has expressed her views in a national daily says that it is fun is misery. Furthermore, factories in Sivakasi, the fireworks capital of India, engage young children in the manufacturing process in the name of employment. Several large-scale fires have claimed countless lives, blotting the town’s reputation, as the factories have no safety norms in place. Children work day and night in inhuman conditions, without wearing gloves or masks. The constant exposure to dangerous explosives and toxic chemicals make the laborers prone to severe ailments and even cause premature death.
Instead of splurging on firecrackers, how about celebrating the festival in ways that don’t involve pollution? True, environmental degradation due to urbanization and industrialization has reached its peak. People and businesses around the world are taking steps to be eco-friendly, and they would like us to do our part to preserve our planet. Instead of waiting for others to clean up their act, vow to start charity at home. Environmentalists and ecologists firmly believe that commercial greed has fueled the trade of fireworks distorting all sense of sacred symbolism.
In conclusion, what is Diwali without the cacophony of fireworks and the thick smoke that blends into the air we breathe, throwing those vulnerable into a fit of coughs? Festivities apart, the Diwali season brings along the eco-friendly brigade that encourages people to ‘go green’ and stop bursting firecrackers. Countless people, old and young, have given up the practice to preserve the environment and protect animals and the elderly from the noise pollution. f we have laws about fireworks let the administration implement it very strictly, if not it will be just a joke. There are less harmful ways to celebrate the festival, they say, while others defend the tradition. Happy Deepavali- celebrate the safest way as possible.