Rajat Sharma

Civil society leaders must come forward to spread awareness about air pollution

AKBThe Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that only “green” firecrackers will be allowed during fireworks on Diwali, Gurpurab and other festival days strictly from 8 pm till 10 pm, and on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, fireworks will be allowed from 11.55 pm till 12.30 am.

The apex court turned down the plea for a blanket ban on manufacture and sale of firecrackers across India, but set stringent standards for their manufacture. Online sale of firecrackers has been banned. The “green” firecrackers are supposed to have reduced noise and emission levels. The court also banned “joined firecrackers” (‘ladi’) and directed police to ensure that only “green” firecrackers are sold throughout the country.

“Say No to crackers” campaign has been carried out in schools and colleges for the last several decades. Students are taught about air pollution created by firecrackers. While the campaign has been successful to a large extent, yet fireworks continue to take place on Diwali nights and during other festivals. The Supreme Court directive may have the desired results to some extent.

Air pollution is caused not by fireworks alone but also due to indiscriminate burning of stubble in fields by farmers. This too needs to be curbed. Industries near big cities also add poison to the air through emission of fumes and smoke. Dust emanating from construction sites, and fumes from vehicles exhaust also add to air pollution.

It is not possible to curb all these through strict enforcement of laws only, nor through stern court directives. Mass public cooperation is needed. People must be made to understand that minor mistakes can cause serious air pollution. Schools and colleges, parents in homes, spiritual gurus and other leaders of civil society must come forward to create awareness about air pollution.

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