If the AAP government’s environment department has its way, Delhi may witness a markedly different Diwali next year, one that won’t be such a noisy and polluted affair.
The Delhi government’s environment department is considering introducing certain measures to bring down air and noise pollution levels. These include bringing down the permissible decibel levels of firecrackers and banning the use of certain metals in the manufacture of firecrackers.
“The norms for regulating firecrackers need to be revisited. The cut off for noise-levels in firecrackers is 145 decibels, which is very high. Under the existing norms, firecrackers can be quite lethal in terms of noise; that needs to be brought down,” said Environment Secretary Ashwani Kumar.
Instead of putting curbs on the purchase of firecrackers, authorities will regulate their manufacture and supply in an effort to control pollution effectively, said Kumar. He admitted that attempts to curtail the purchase of firecrackers will require the government to interact with thousands of people, adding that it would be a “nightmare” to implement such measures.
Kumar said that Delhi government officials will draw upon the norms enacted by their counterparts in West Bengal.
“West Bengal has shown the way. They have reduced permissible decibel levels of crackers to 90 decibels. If deafening crackers are controlled at the stage of manufacture, noise pollution will be controlled to a great extent,” said a senior official.
The environment department is also considering other measures, including regulating the use of metals like copper, barium and strontium in the making of colourful fireworks, said officials. According to the environment department, these metals harm the environment. Potassium chlorate, commonly used in Chinese firecrackers, is not only highly polluting but is also a safety hazard, said officials.
According to the environment department, use of such metals in firecrackers should be discouraged, if not banned.
“Studies have shown that even if some components of these firecrackers fall to the ground, there is a chance they could enter our foodchain. This can cause damage to lungs and the metabolic system,” said Kumar.
The environment department will discuss the issue with officials from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, environmental experts and other government departments to bring about the necessary changes, said officials. “The legal framework is available. The state government can frame rules or directions under two Acts — The Environment (Protection) Act and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,” said Kumar. He added that the environment department should be able to complete the process in one month.
The review of existing norms for manufacture, sale and purchase of firecrackers was prompted by a number of complaints against rising pollution levels, with several studies pointing out the need to control air and noise pollution in Delhi.