With the festival of “lights” ( not fire-crackers ) knocking on our doors, celebrities have taken over social media to influence people to not use chemically made crackers. Many have been seen supporting Green Crackers. One of them was the Indian Cricket team captain, Virat Kohli, who tweeted to come up with ways to enjoy a safe and pollution free Diwali. But his good motive has been lashed by netizens, with #भौंक_मत_कोहली trending on Twitter with 159K tweets, after #SunoKohli trend.
Derogatory comments have flooded all over social media, claiming the bursting of crackers as a part of tradition and “dharma”. Self-declared memers have crossed all the limits, taking advantage of the so-called freedom of expression and have compared Captain Kohli’s picture with dogs. People have also made a comparison of bursting fire crackers during sport events and that of 1.38 billion people bursting it all together, in bulk.
Amid the government restrictions on burning crackers, people have come to social media and have expressed their gloom of not being able to pollute the already polluted planet just by digging their own graveyards. The crackers made for self-amusement, that came into existence only a century ago, are now claimed to be a part of a culture which has existed for eons.
No culture and no “dharma”, ever poses any harm to the nature it originally belonged to. Diwali, the festival of lights, foundationally involved, the lighting of lamps, cooking delicious dishes and enjoying with acquaintances, the celebration of the victory of good over evil. But today, with scientific development chemicals and hazardous elements are mixed in disproportionate amounts to produce harmful explosives. Sivakasi, the firecracker capital in India, accounting for 90% of crackers made, has been surveyed to bring into light, the noxious ways of making fire crackers. It has also been found out by an NGO, that most of these fire crackers breach the allowed proportions of compounds used.
For a normal human being, any sound above 85 dB is harmful, and firecrackers are of 120dB-130dB loudness. According to the CPSC, there occurs 7.9 deaths per year from fireworks. The National Safety Council has emphasised on the fact of not letting kids use sparklers as toys because they burn at around 2000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metals. Young people below 20 years of age, account for being highly susceptible to emergency room injuries. In 2018, the National Fire Protection Association reported, fireworks provided spark for 19000 fires, causing a large number of civilian injuries and a loss worth $105 million.
The Air Quality Index, which ranges from 0-500, with the limit of 401, which is marked as “severe”, showed the index reached 500 at most of the places in Delhi, during Diwali. The fine particulate matter, dangerous gases and aerosols, that are let into the atmosphere, create a burst of Ozone, which is an extremely reactive gas molecule, that can cause serious issues to the lungs. A survey done in London, after the fireworks show, reveals the usage of NOx and SOx, who are primary contributors to acid rain. Pollutants stay in the air for 5 hours after the firework show, and up to 77% of the particulate pollution originates from those fireworks alone. In 2014, at Agra, the fireworks after Diwali had rendered toxic airborne pollutants like SO2, NO2, PM and Ozone, that remained as high for five days at stretch, which was 2800% more than the limit recommended by WHO. The deadly metal emissions can cause diarrhea, asthma attacks, kidney disease, cardiotoxicity and cancer.
Be it the hundreds of deaths that occurred in the firework explosion in Kollam or the alarming situation in New Delhi that occurs every year, adding to its already existing and ever-growing pollution misery, these chemically packed devils have all the potential to engulf humanity and choke us to death. To be fools to embrace the end, or enjoy the festival with fun, depends on us.