The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to order a blanket ban of fireworks during Diwali on a plea by three infants. It reiterated its earlier ruling that firecrackers will be prohibited between 10 pm and 6 am.
However, the court expressed its displeasure over the central government’s failure to implement a previous order to sensitise the public on the ill effects and pollution of bursting of crackers. The court asked the Centre and concerned agencies to launch publicity campaigns in the media on the harmful impact of firecrackers during the festival season.
The opposition to the ban has been quite stiff, especially in Tamil Nadu. While Arulmigu Sri Ayyappan Sangam, a religious organisation based in Sivakasi opposed the idea of the ban saying that any restriction on bursting firecrackers on Diwali would affect the traditional and customary rights of Hindus, G Abirupen, leader of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA), a body opposed the idea of ban, challenged the very logic of ‘pollution’ itself and the alleged ‘health impacts’ from firecrackers.
Abirupen represents the Rs 6,000 crore worth Sivakasi-based fireworks manufacturing factories. He said the fireworks industry in Tirupati, the largest in the country with over 800 fireworks factories, also supports over five lakh families. He denied reports that children were employed in their factories and claimed that all employees get minimum wages with Employee State Insurance and Provident Fund benefits.
As far as Abirupen and the industry are concerned, the arguments of environmentalists and anti-pollution activists who raised an alarm at the pollution from fireworks during festival days are unfair on several counts.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he raised the following points
If firecrackers makes people sick, how clean are the city skies otherwise?
If you go by the data of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), there is no major difference between the ambient air pollution levels during average normal day and festival days. If you could check the same with local pollution monitors in other cities, for instance, pay
Rs 30 to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and get the pollution data of a normal day and Diwali day, you would see that there is not much difference.
How safe are the crackers?
After the ban on Chinese-made firecrackers which contain the substances of banned potassium chloride, locally-made fire crackers are less dangerous and being manufactured with allowed substances such as aluminium, barium and potassium nitrate. Unlike Chinese products, our firecrackers are not friction sensitive too. Moreover, bursting crackers or fireworks during festival season are part of our culture that dates back to centuries.
Only prolonged exposure to pollutants affect your health. Lakhs of people who live in our highly polluted cities are exposed to dangerous levels of pollution on a daily basis — the main reason for health problems is prolonged exposure. Smoke and pollutants from firecrackers that last for a day or two in a year wouldn’t make you sick or ruin your respiratory system.