Firecrackers are an important part of Diwali celebrations but at what cost ? We all know that firecrackers cause both air and noise pollution, but do we even stop to think about those who are most vulnerable to its effects?
Every year, thousands of homeless people fall prey to respiratory diseases after Diwali, despite the government's efforts to bring down the level of pollution in the city.
The impact it has on homeless people
According to a recent report, there are more than 2.5 lakh homeless people in the Capital alone. "Every year, we have homeless people coming up to us with either burn injuries or respiratory problems. We try to accommodate them in our shelters, but we have only that much space ,” says SH Siddiqui, caretaker of the Govindpuri night shelter in south Delhi. .
Indu Prakash Singh, convenor of the National Forum for Housing Rights echoed similar concerns.
"A large number of homeless people are exposed to pollution during the festival. Mostly, the crackers are of bad quality which makes these homeless people vulnerable to respiratory problems. Almost 90% of homeless people are on streets, only 17,000 people are sheltered in homes. Although the new government has constructed big shelters, we need more of them", he said, urging people to not burst crackers as it adds on to the suffering of those living on the footpath.
What happens to street animals?
Renowned animals rights' activist Gauri Maulekhi explains the plight of animals during the festival day.
She told ScoopWhoop News," Firecrackers are a nuisance for everybody including animals and birds. They cannot have a possibly have a moment’s peace. Scared birds fly away during Diwali night and do not return during nesting season which is why many dead chicks are found during Diwali morning."
Talking about the intensity of injuries incurred by street animals, she added,"During Diwali our hospitals are flooded with injured animals. Street dogs are already so freaked out and in a frenzy they bite and it leads to further complications. People then complain of dog menace."
Every year there are reports of animal cruelty during Diwali. " Some sadists and psychopaths intentionally hurt animals. Some are victims of accidents and others are deliberately hurt by insensitive children", says Maulekhi. She also advises against the use of fire crackers especially that create noise.
Are any steps being taken to curb pollution ?
Diwali brings an increase in pollution various parts of the country with Delhi being one of the worst hit cities. The city’s air quality is deteriorating with each passing year on Diwali. While many in the city are rejecting the low quality Chinese crackers, illegal made Indian products are still prevalent in the market.
Anumita Roy Chowdhury, head of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE's) clean air campaign feels that talking about Chinese crackers diverts the focus from the main problem.
In a conversation with ScoopWhoop News, she said, "Although Chinese crackers have higher sulphur levels and are cheaper than Indian crackers, there needs to be a control on the use of all crackers. Reports have already showed the deteriorating levels of air, intense cracker burning will cause further levels of added damage."
She added that it's high time the regulations laid down by SC are enforced. "There needs to be proper awareness and the SC regulations need to be enforced. Beijing's air condition is as bad as Delhi but China has enforced strict regulatory practices to stop people from causing pollution. It doesn't allow its people to burn crackers."
This year the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had issued a letter to the customs department and police officials on stopping the use on what is commonly known as Chinese crackers as they contain the harmful mixture of 'sulpur' and 'sulpharate' with chlorine.
ScoopWhoop tried contacting DPCC officials but they remained unavailable for a comment.