With the Supreme Court banning the sale of crackers in Delhi calls for the ban to be extended are being made in other parts of the country as well. Maharashtra is now asking citizens to observe a cracker-free Diwali. It’s a welcoming move but at wrong timing. When pollution rates were going high in India, activists, courts and people had many reasons to call for ban but now ahead of festival if the ban is implemented there are many political groups who will poison people’s mind in the name of religious sentiments. There can be communal disharmony. I am not against ban but definitely, not with the timing of ban. Since 2014, India is already experiencing outrages on various religious sentiments. From eating beef to wearing clothes or boozing in particular state, there are frequent bans on some or the other thing. This is one more order. I hope this ban won’t ignite any fire.
Court must be aware that the matches and fireworks industries are holding more than a lakh of children, crushing the very enjoyable span of their childhood. Thousands of child labour is employed in this extremely hazardous industry. Even places unknown earlier for firecrackers have been reported of having illegal firecrackers units. The production pace gets accelerated during September-October to meet the enormous demand during Diwali. To cope up with the target, thousands of children are employed on casual basis. Generally these children hail from slum, under privileged background and strays. If such industries close doors for them, they choose to steal. The hunger can lead them to drugs to flesh trading. Paedophilia is already a threat; many exploit these young slaves as government has no alternate arrangements for their rehabilitation. Juvenile homes are another horror story.
In Mumbai all the street kids and street residents do seasonal business, in January and August they sell flags, in December they sell Santa caps and Christmas decorations, in other festivals they sell flowers and in Diwali they sell crackers. This is their way of life. They have to switch and shift for survival. All of a sudden ban without notice challenges the livelihood of those people who depend on the industry. Across Mumbai slum, from Dharavi to Bhiwandi, there are many small-scale industries of firecrackers. They invest huge by availing loans for this very season; with this ban there will be a big imbalance in these people’s lives. If fireworks are banned then where the industries will sell their products? Most of the industries will be closed. More people will lose their jobs. And it is because government has failed to provide job opportunities. We actually need to find its alternative like Eco-friendly firecrackers after burning it will release oxygen gas, so we can follow our tradition and culture while protecting the environment.
We all know that the raw materials for firecrackers are highly explosive in nature. A speck of negligence could mean instant death or crippling. Besides, due to constant exposure to chemicals like sulphur, potash, phosphorous, chlorate etc., the children contract deadly infections of lung, skin, kidney and eyes.
Matches and fireworks industry being highly hazardous, the law provides for imprisonment from 3 months to years and a fine up to Rs 20,000. But, thanks to the various law-enforcing agencies, this legal instrument has remained a paper tiger till date. Leave alone the imprisonment, till date the maximum penalty imposed for violation of this law is a paltry Rs 200. In spite of having all this information, how many such businesses are closed or been raided in Mumbai?
The revelations of both governmental and non-governmental studies on this subject agree that these units keep flouting the norms and provisions of Explosive Act, Factory Act and Labour Laws. Yet, all over the country, such units are mushrooming and running without registration of license. We have failed to tackle the menace all these years and even in future we will not be able to control them, then why this hypothetical drama of ban?
One really can’t impose a ban on crackers during Diwali; it makes quite an illogical attempt to impact an issue while at the same time trying to hurt the sentiments of a lot of people. Indian cracker industry is mainly manual labour and employs 2 lakh people; however, accounts for no more than 1 per cent of the overall pollution created. We might need to stop eating non-vegetarian food, stop driving cars, retire all old trucks transporting material and food and of course stop using AC and fridge. These steps will actually work towards reducing the rise in global average temperature; improve the air quality and repairing the ozone hole.
When we burst crackers on Diwali we pollute the environment by creating carbon dioxide. When we drive car/bus/auto or truck we pollute ecosystem.
Cigarettes, vehicular pollution, water pollution, honking, littering (religious and otherwise) are bad for the environment too and they happen every single day of our lives. Why have we not spoken about these issues? Why only Diwali, ask for every day pollution-free earth and for that we need to avoid every single thing that contributes to global warming.
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