Podcast | Will ‘Green’ Firecrackers Make Our Diwali Less Polluted?

The last minute Supreme Court order will do little to control pollution levels on Diwali. Tune in to The Big Story!

2 min read

Happy Pollution and respiratory sicknesses! Err… I meant Diwali. Happy Diwali, guys.

For today’s Big Story, we’ll ask questions on whether ‘green’ firecrackers are, in fact, a more environment friendly way to celebrate Diwali.

On October 23, barely two weeks before Diwali, the Supreme Court lifted the blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers and allowed the use of green firecrackers only.

But, what are green firecrackers?

According to the order, firecrackers that avoid the use of ash to reduce particulate matter by 15-20%, and have low emissions so that the pollutants are reduced by 30-35% can be termed as ‘green’. These firecrackers reduce the levels of NOx and SO2, and don’t have banned chemicals such as lead, mercury, lithium, arsenic and antimony. It means sparklers, rockets and other common crackers stand banned by the SC.

So, does that mean the issue of soaring pollution levels on Diwali has been solved? Maybe not. The Supreme Court’s last-minute order is the exact opposite of a stitch in time, especially since firecrackers this year had long been manufactured ahead of the festive season.

But there’s only a two hour window to burst firecrackers between 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali, so that ought to help, right? It may not make a significant difference because we are still looking at millions of people bursting crackers even if it is just for two hours.

So is that it, then? Is there no way of tackling this problem even when we can breathe and feel the palpable damage it is causing to our environment and our health?

There's good news, and bad news. The good news is that we can definitely fight this pollution. The bad news is that these last minute orders and bans may be of little help. After all, we are looking at a Rs 4,000 crore industry and many people whose livelihoods depend entirely on the manufacture and sale of firecrackers.

So, how do we phase out an industry like this? It is obvious that for a permanent solution, the government has to work in tandem with the law to re-employ those who work in this industry, and slowly phase it out.

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