WITH THE Supreme Court on Tuesday permitting people across the country to burst firecrackers only from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali and other festivals as well as allowing manufacture and sale of just low emission “green” crackers, those looking forward to a noisy Diwali in the city were a disappointed lot. Environmental activists, however, welcomed the court’s decision while calling for its effective implementation.
Ghatkopar resident and businessman Rakshit Joshi has said the judgment restricts their freedom. “This is the only festival in a year where we are excited to burst crackers. On days like Tulsi Poojan and Bhaubhij, families meet to celebrate the festival together and burst crackers. No limit should be put on it.”
“Tomorrow, there may be guidelines on how long we should keep the lamps lit during Diwali… Why such decisions must impact our enjoyment of the festival,” said Chembur resident Sakshi Juneja.
However, organisations hosting Diwali Pahaat (Dawn of Diwali), commonly celebrated across Maharashtra, have welcomed the judgment. Vidyadhar Nimkar, who celebrates Diwali Pahaat with the Chaturang Pratisthan, said: “It is a welcome move. We had stopped bursting crackers five years ago. For the young generation, Pahaat is all about eating sweets and greeting each other.”
Prasad Mahadkar from Jivangani Sanstha concurred. “Diwali is a festival of lights and sweets. Restricting the bursting of firecrackers is not going to lower the spirit of the festival in any way.”
Sumaira Abdulali, convener of Awaaz Foundation and an anti-noise pollution activist, said: “We are happy that the court has acknowledged that crackers create air and noise pollution. We have been testing crackers with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board since 2005.”
Abdulai said that there must be rules where manufacturers of crackers mention the chemical content on the packet. “Police and BMC must check if only licensed vendors are selling crackers.”
The firecracker dealers in the city, meanwhile, claimed they may face a 20 per cent dip in the sale of crackers due to the court’s decision. “Till we actually get green firecrackers, customers may buy the usual crackers. We are thankful that the court has only restricted the way they should be burst and not on its sale. People will buy the crackers,” said Jaswal Gangan, a dealer in firecrackers in Sewri.
Vashi dealer Omkar Berde said the court’s decision will not change much. “We do not sell crackers that make loud noise. People would still burst crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm.” On October 9 last year, the SC had temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali in the Delhi-NCR region. The ban was lifted on November 1.