Safe Celebrations for All
Close on the heels of the Supreme Court’s clarification that its order against bursting of firecrackers is applicable across the country, and not just for Delhi-NCR, while directing the state governments to take appropriate steps to control air and noise pollution, the Nagaland police issued a similar restriction for Dimapur, Chümoukedima and Niuland districts on the eve of Diwali last month. According to the directive issued by the Dimapur police, only reduced emission firecrackers (improved/green crackers) were permitted and that it should be sold only by licensed traders. It also restricted fireworks in silence zones — 100 meters away from hospitals, nursing homes, primary and district health-care centres, etc. – while providing bursting window between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali and from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am on the eve of Christmas and New Year. Did the people adhere to the order, including the window for playing fireworks, during Diwali? The answer is a big NO. Will the people obey the directive during Christmas and New Year? Such directives had fallen on deaf ears in the past, so sticking to the 35-minute bursting window is unlikely. Sadly, this issue is not isolated to Nagaland. People from across the country continue to defy the ban imposed by the Supreme Court of India and the National Green Tribunal (NGT), undeterred by hundreds of firework-related incidents, including fatal ones.
Extensive awareness campaigns carried out by the government, environmentalists and organisations over the years is showing positive results, with people slowly beginning to switch from firecrackers to diyas, candles and decorative LED lights, for Diwali celebrations. This change is encouraging though the pace needs to pick up. Meanwhile, firecracker bursting trend seems to be picking up in Nagaland, spreading beyond major urban settlements like Dimapur and Kohima. This trend has to stop. We should learn to celebrate important occasions without harming and polluting the environment by avoiding firecrackers and non-biodegradable materials including plastic items. Christmas and New Year is the best time to start saying NO to such items. Such a move is necessary as solid waste and fireworks emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and contaminate the air, water and soil. The health implications, especially on people suffering from asthma and other diseases connected to lung, cardiovascular, respiratory and other organs, is another big reason why we should stop bursting firecrackers. Festivities should not put our health at risk. These include overspeeding and driving under the influence. Let us celebrate Christmas and New Year safely.