In April 2020, while the entire nation was under lockdown, something magical happened in New Delhi and it was enjoyed by everyone in the country’s capital.
Senior politician Sashi Tharoor best described the magical experience – “the blissful sight of blue skies and the joy of breathing clean air provides just the contrast to illustrate what we are doing to ourselves the rest of the time”
Seeing clear skies and breathing clean air are not so easy in the city of Delhi and that is the cause of Tharoor’s astonishment. After the lockdown, Stubble burning, among other reasons have now made the blue skies to fade.
Ban on Fire crackers
With Diwali just few days away, Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi-Government announced “In the wake of the rising pollution and coronavirus cases in Delhi due to the festival season, the Delhi government has decided to put a complete ban on the sale, purchase, and use of firecrackers in the city from November 7 to November 30”.
While this move is not going to be welcomed by the Delhi residents, it is considered by many as a needed measure. ‘Air quality worsens across India after Diwali’ will be the usual headlines seen and read in newspapers and media websites after Diwali. But this year, the Capital has chosen to make a difference. Like Delhi, few States have also consented to go green.
Odisha, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana have announced ban on bursting crackers. While Odisha has banned the sale and bursting of crackers from November 10 and 30, Rajasthan has gone a step further and announced that a fine Rs.10,000 will be levied on the seller and Rs, 2000 on the buyer.
Karnataka was the latest one to announce a complete ban on crackers usage this year. “We are taking a decision to ban the use of firecrackers during Deepavali…The government will soon be issuing an order to this effect,” Karnataka CM B. S. Yediyurappa said on Friday (Nov 6). (But the very next day, he said that green crackers are allowed due to unknown reason.)
But the most important thing we all should try to understand is smokes at such large volume can affect children, senior-citizens, pregnant women and particularly those who are recovering from COVID-19. We cannot ignore the fact that the nation already has seen so many people suffering lung related ailments induced by the novel coronavirus. It is very important that we go green for this year’s diwali and festive season’s celebration.
Livelihood of 8 lakh+ employees:
While the ban is good for the environment, it is certainly not going to be a good news to more than 8 lakh workers in Sivakasi who are involved in the manufacture of fire crackers. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edapaddi K. Palaniswami wrote to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Ashok Gehlot to reconsider their decisions.
“Tamil Nadu produces mainly green crackers and therefore the question of environmental pollution does not arise. There is no empirical or validated data to demonstrate that the bursting of crackers has an effect on COVID patients…” Edapaddi K. Palaniswami said.
Sivakasi is the town that manufactures fireworks for the whole nation, and its scenario does not look bright this year. Though green crackers (fire crackers that cause low emission and sound) somewhat seem to cause lesser disturbances to environment, it is still going to hurt it none the less.
Complete ban on fireworks everywhere will have serious impact on the fire cracker industry dependent people (proprietor, employees, store-runners). “Their livelihood (the workers’) solely depends on the sale of crackers during Deepavali season. The ban on bursting crackers in your State can have a direct bearing on the livelihood of over 8 lakh workers in the State of Tamil Nadu and another equal number of people engaged in its sale,” the CM further had said in the letter to his counterparts.
How we can help?
The sales volume shoots up at Diwali because crackers have become an exclusive element of this festival. People mostly burst them on this day than on any other time of the year. Instead of every one indulging in it at the same day, if a great number of people chose to reduce their love for crackers on Diwali and burst them on any other occasion, at a very little quantity; there are chances to cut the pollution levels.
In Tamil Nadu, 2 hours have been set aside for bursting crackers (6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.) It is the wish of an individual to burst or rest crackers on Diwali. But if many of us could light more Diyas and reduce the usage of crackers on Diwali, it has high chances to cut the damage percentage.
On the employees’ side, now that the migrant (or) guest workers are in their hometown and their return is not a surety; if few of these employees could be trained and provided the vacant-jobs, it could help them change their life. They need skill-training. The government can arrange that. It could announce a massive skill-training for them and provide the trainees stipend.
Some of them could be given skill-training in making handicraft items. The govt can facilitate a market for them, make campaign or anything in its power to make a progressive change.
The employees don’t have an alternative and hence they stick to the fire-cracker industry. When they are empowered with another skill, they will have hope on their side. While we cannot ask for complete closure of the cracker industry, we can give a new way for the employees to walk on.