The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is all set to celebrate Diwali - the environment friendly way. After the success of their campaign for clay Ganesha idols in the city, the KSPCB is now confident that with increased awareness, change can be brought about. "Diwali is a festival of light, but we end up celebrating it with waste and pollution instead. Last year also, we carried out an extensive campaign and we successfully managed to bring down the Diwali celebrations from seven to eight days, to just two days," says Vamana Acharya, Chairman, KSPCB.
Apart from releasing a digital campaign that will make use of Facebook and Twitter to talk about the harmful effects of bursting crackers, KSPCB is also roping in various other agencies like the police force, schools, hospitals and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to help them tackle the issue."I have already sent a letter to the Police Commissioner asking the police to make sure that people don't burst crackers at night and around schools and hospitals. I've also asked them to make sure that crackers are sold in only a limited number of shops in the city. They should conduct surveys mesuring pollution levels in the city during the festival days as well," says Acharya.
Crackers are made of toxic chemicals. Bursting a cracker releases sulphur compounds, heavy metal, coal, ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrate oxide and other chemical elements into the air. Chemicals like barium, aluminum, rubidium, cadmium, mercury and bronze are added to crackers to emit colours and sparks. Inhaling these chemicals can cause health complications.
Human ears can only tolerate sounds upto 85 decibels but the sounds of crackers exceed 140 decibels. According to KSPCB, bursting crackers of more than 125 decibels is an offence and bursting crackers from 10 pm to 6 am is prohibited. Crackers should not be burst outside hospitals, old age homes and residences of heart patients. "People bursting crackers also suffer from injuries like burns on their hands and legs. People can lose their eyesight and the loud noise from crackers can also lead to hearing impairment. So much paper is also wasted in the making of these crackers," says Acharya.
KPSCB also wants to educate the youngsters. They are sending posters and handouts to various schools and informing school children about the harmful effects of crackers. "We are going to ask these youngsters to take an oath that they will not burst any crackers. These things need to be taught when they are young if you want to see any real change," says Acharya.