The rising problem of air pollution was addressed by the Supreme Court of India with a decision to ban sale of fire crackers till October 31. Although the decision has been taken in the interest of the pollution that fire crackers cause, but there are other pollutants also, not just in Delhi-NCR, which have been degrading the environment on a daily basis.
The pollution caused by firecrackers.
Last year for Diwali, at 2.5 PM, the rate of particulate matter in air was nearly 16 times more than the safety level set by the government and nearly 40 times more than that set by the World Health Organization (WHO). It was also 2.5 times more than regular days. Of course, the sudden influx in pollution was a result of Diwali celebrations, but it is to be noted that Delhi’s air necessarily remains clogged with pollutants every single day of the year.
New Delhi’s infamous traffic jam and the rate of increasing private vehicles add to the pollution level.
In 2014-15, the number of registered private vehicles in the capital city was 88 lakh, which increased to a mammoth 97 lakh in 2016-17, making this steep increase the highest rate in 8 years. According to a study by IIT Kanpur, the smoke emitted from vehicles amounts to nearly 25% of the total pollution of the city. And with such an increase in the number of vehicles, the pollution level of the city is bound to rise further.
With increase in pollution, intensity of heat felt in the city is also on a roll. As a result, every year hundreds of households bring in refrigerators and air conditioners to fight the rising summer heat levels. These electronic items, which are a great relief during the hot months, emit CFCs and other dreadful gases, which again add to the increasing pollution levels in the city.
Now, according to a report tabulated by the Central Pollution Control Board and the National Environment Engineering Research Institute regarding the causes of pollution, the main source of dust pollution (52.5 per cent) are roads, mainly construction work going on at Dharalle in Delhi NCR. Whether it is the construction of some civil work or a private housing society, these projects contribute a great amount towards the increasing air pollution. But such construction works are also important and, hence, cannot be stopped. In other studies, vehicles, generators, brick kilns, factories, garbage burners and power plants were also found to be major pollutants.
Keeping all these in mind, the Supreme Court’s decision is definitely a step forward. But whether this decision shall reflect in good results will only be decided by time, but it has definitely hit some people hard who made a livelihood by sale of fire crackers for Diwali. It is known that 85 per cent of crackers in the country are made in Sivakasi, a small village in Tamil Nadu. There are more than three lakh people working in cracker factories here. Five lakh people are associated with other packet-related packing factories. Creating firecrackers earns an estimated seven thousand crores annually. Hence, they will lose more than hundreds of crores of rupees this year as a result of this ban. And if this ban is implemented in other cities of the country as well, millions of people would be expelled from employment.