ith the Supreme Court restricting the sale of firecrackers, many feel that the decision is a welcoming one but was taken at a wrong timing. When pollution rates were going high in India, the activists, courts, and people had many reasons to call for the ban, but the stringent rules were imposed just ahead of the festival. The SC refused to impose a nationwide blanket ban on the manufacture and sale of firecrackers and said that only “green firecrackers” would be allowed to be sold in the country which are less polluting.
As per the directives issued by the apex court, bursting of firecrackers will be allowed only from 8 pm to 10 pm. For The New Year and Christmas celebrations, bursting will be allowed between 11:45 pm to 12:30 am. Besides that, the court has also banned the online sale of firecrackers and restrained e-commerce websites from selling them.
I am not against the ban but definitely, I am not in favour of the timing of the ban. Since 2014, India is already divided into religious groups. From eating beef to wearing cloths or boozing, in a 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.
The court must be aware that the matches and fireworks industries are holding more than a lakhs of children who are crushing the very enjoyable span of their childhood. Child employment is in thousands 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 a casual basis. Generally, these children are from the slum, underprivileged background, and strays. If such industries close doors for them, they chose to beg or steal. The hunger can lead them to drugs to flesh trading. Pedophilia is already a threat; many exploit these young slaves as the 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, the regulation on selling firecrackers without notice is bound to challenge the livelihood of those people who depend on the industry. Across Mumbai slum areas, from Dharavi to Bhiwandi, there are many small-scale firecracker industries. They invest huge amount by taking loans for this very season; with this ban, there will be a big imbalance in these people’s life. If usual fireworks are banned, where will the industries sell their products which are already in their stock? As the government has failed to provide job opportunities, we actually need to find more alternatives like Eco-friendly firecrackers or ‘green crackers’, so that we can follow our tradition and culture to protect the environment.
We all know that the raw materials used for the manufacturing of the firecrackers are highly explosive in nature. A speck of negligence could mean instant death or crippling. Besides, due to constant exposure to chemicals like sulfur, 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 three months to years and a fine unto 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 closed or 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, there is a mushrooming of such units all over the country which are running without registration of a 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 conditional ban?
One really can’t put 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 more than two lakhs people; however, it accounts for not 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 and improve the air quality and repair 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 the ecosystem.
Cigarettes, Vehicular pollution, water pollution, honking, littering (religious and otherwise) etc. are bad for the environment too and they happen every single day of our lives. Why have we not spoken about these? 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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