Firecrackers: Spreading a message of poison amid cheer
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Nov. 6: Firecrackers have become a part of celebration during big events like Diwali, Christmas, and New Year. It intensifies the aura of excitement among the people during festivities. But for beings without speech—pets, animals and birds—it is veritably the worst time of the year. Humans can reason out the logic behind the noise and polluted air that chokes but not animals.
Unable to stand the din of firecrackers, one can see the behaviour of the animals, especially cats and dogs—hiding and cowering, shivering or fleeing noises. These animals have high hearing range than that of humans. One can imagine how these poor creatures might be feeling when the loud noises go off at a very close range.
Some animals may take more than a week to fully recover from the trauma. Some don’t. Crackers have been known to cause temporary deafness in animals and disorient birds, making them fly out of their shelters into alien corners in search of safety. As most birds have poor vision at night, they bump into objects and injure themselves. Owls, kites, and bats are the worst-affected as the bright glare of firecrackers can also burn or permanently blind them.
Besides noise pollution, firecrackers also cause extensive air pollution within a short span of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals, and smoke in the air even for days. Some of the toxins include copper, zinc, sodium, lead, magnesium, cadmium and pollutants like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. And they are as harmful for humans.
These toxins never fully decompose or disintegrate, but rather hang around in the environment, poisoning all they come into contact with. This pollution is a nightmare for the owners of poultry, pig, and cattle farm.
The vice president of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dr. Joseph Lemtur, told Eastern Mirror over the telephone that he was aware of livestock being affected due to the use of firecrackers. However, he expressed inability to comment on banning firecrackers unless it directly concerned with animals being injured by the explosives. “If people really care about animals, then they will not use it (firecrackers),” he added.
For humans, especially the sick and aged, people who have emotional issues such as depression, and especially babies, firecrackers make their lives even more difficult. The scourge is even more for patients in the hospitals and residential areas. People burst crackers not realising that they are jeopardizing the health of people and patients. They are highly vulnerable to stress from the noise from firecrackers.
Despite many cautions and warnings, some public members still cannot resist their hands off the explosives. But for those in concern, are you ready to refrain from using firecrackers?
The Nagaland Pollution Control Board has stipulated rules to regulate noise so that people are least disturbed during festive seasons. The rule is based on the Noise Regulation and Control of Pollution Rule of 2000 which is provided by the government of India. Under this rule:
- The deputy commissioner is the implementing authority.
- Bursting of crackers during night time i.e. 10pm to 6am is not permitted.
- Fire crackers above 125 decibels are banned.
In addition to the rules, under Section 31 A of the Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act of 1981 and Section 8 of the Noise Regulation and Control of Pollution Rule of 2000, the Nagaland Pollution Control Board directs that if there is to be firework:
- Prior permission has to be taken from the administration which shall give permission to carry out the firework specifying the time and place for the purpose (away from the hospitals, schools, and residential areas).
- Wide publicity shall be given prior to the event to avoid panic to the people in the vicinity and to maintain congenial environment, prevent annoyance, disturbance, and discomfort to the public.
Many Indians want a ban on firecrackers on Diwali
A report from Quartz India stated that one out of every two urban Indians supports a ban on fireworks, according to market research firm Velocity MR. The firm surveyed 2,580 people across 10 major cities—Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Pune—last week.
Ironically, some Indians who support a ban on firecrackers are also buying them. “Purchasing crackers is on the list of close to 60% respondents,” the study said. It also found that 20% of urban Indians are nostalgic about playing with fireworks as kids, which they say forms an important childhood memory of the festival.
Support for a firecracker ban is slightly higher among young people, with 56% Indians in the 18-25 age groups favouring it. But overall support for a ban is lower than last year, when 66% of all respondents had supported a Supreme Court order banning firecrackers.
India’s top court had last year issued a blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi, amid a raging debate over whether the country’s most popular Hindu festival would lose its spark. This year, the court has stopped short of a complete ban, allowing the sale of “green firecrackers” in the city.
Every winter, Diwali coincides with a peak in pollution levels in north Indian cities, including New Delhi. Bursting firecrackers, which has long been part of Diwali tradition, contributes to the smog. The toxic mixture of fumes and ambient particulate matter is once again enveloping the Indian capital this year.
Yet, India is the second largest market for firecrackers in the world after China. Sivakasi, the fireworks manufacturing hub in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which accounts for 85% of all crackers sold in the country, has an annual turnover of around Rs7,000 crore and employs more than 300,000 workers directly, the report added. (Inputs from Quartz India)