Not a ‘firecracker-free’ Deepavali

People bursting crackers during Deepavali celebrations at Vasanthnagar in Bengaluru on Sunday.  

It was expected to be a Deepavali unlike any other in recent memory as the government and medical fraternity appealed for a quieter festival of lights in view of complications that could arise out of firecracker-related pollution and the existing pandemic. But confusion over transition to “green crackers” continued even as firecrackers were burst in many areas across the city on Saturday and Sunday, though rain brought some temporary relief.

In addition, despite restrictions on timings (between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.), firecrackers were burst across the city from 6.30 p.m. onwards and even well beyond midnight.

Srinivasulu, member-secretary, KSPCB, said they had been observing an increase in particulate matters, including PM10 and PM2.5, during Deepavali when compared with normal days. “However, the acuteness of the problem is reducing year by year. There was 46% increase in particulate matters in 2017, and over the period of time — in 2018 and 2019 — the number has decreased,” he said. He added that they were hoping that it reduces further this year.

He also said that the KSPCB had provided around 140 electronic equipment to the city police and KSPCB officials to test the noise of firecrackers. “They have been given the basic information on testing and the permitted decibel levels. We will be getting information on them soon,” he said.

Directions too late?

However, civic officials and the police admitted that it was difficult to monitor shops selling firecrackers and ensure that they are selling only “green crackers”, given that the directions were issued on the eve of Deepavali. “If the decision to allow green crackers was taken earlier, we would have got KSPCB officials to conduct workshops for our officers,” said a senior civic official, who did not wish to be named.

A senior police official said had they received the directive from the government earlier, it would have been easier for them to form inter-departmental committees at local levels, mobilise resources, and conduct inspections.

The city police had received a total of 306 applications from firecracker shops this year as against 811 last year. “The low response may be because of COVID-19 and the rule on the sale of green crackers,” a senior police officer overseeing the licensing and auction of these shops said.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 5:47:10 PM |

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