Diwali is one of the most auspicious holidays for the Hindu population, and firecrackers are synonymous with this annual holiday. People believe that the celebration is incomplete without firecrackers. Every year around this time, given the states’ pollution index, there is a lot of talk about their ban. However, it is not that easy. As the festival is of significant importance to the Hindu community, any ban on firecrackers invokes a political backlash from Hindu groups and merchant bodies. Besides religious sentiments, there are also repercussions on health and the economy.
Last year, ahead of the ban on firecrackers in the nation’s capital, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in a video given to ETV Bharat, asked why firecrackers are only banned during Hindu holidays.
Delhi always struggled to control the pollution index at this time, and not just firecrackers, but thatch burning is responsible for it as well. While people believe that burning firecrackers is deeply linked to the celebration of Diwali, banning it during Hindu festivities will hurt the religious feelings of the community.
The Indian firecracker industry is estimated at around 5,000 rupees. The majority of the production units are stationed in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, which is also considered the fireworks hotspot. Every year, government flip-flops and court-imposed restrictions have plunged the industry into crisis. In 2018, the Supreme Court cleared the sale of green crackers, but that didn’t help the industry thrive. In its recent report, The Economic Times mentioned that there are 1,070 manufacturing plants of varying sizes in and around the Virudhunagar region of Tamil Nadu, including Sivakasi.
The decision of governments and courts to ban firecrackers stems from its impact on air quality and human health. Now, given the COVID-19 pandemic, concern has grown that poor air quality could have adverse effects on coronavirus patients. As for Delhi, the air quality reaches the severe category due to cracker bursting and massive thatch burning in neighboring Punjab state.
The onset of winter and the pollution produced by vehicles add to the degrading pollution index.
This year, Diwali is celebrated on November 4th. Ahead of the festival, the Delhi government recently announced a “complete ban” on the sale, storage and use of firecrackers in the nation’s capital.
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