The beat constable’s job just got a bit heavier. Or it may just be that the footsoldiers of law enforcement have been awarded a Diwali bonanza of sorts. The Supreme Court, after all, has wished us a ‘green’ Diwali, not a deathly silent one. The festival of lights as celebrated in recent decades—through the bursting of firecrackers—has been saved from extinction. The firecracker industry, in a deep slump, and a sulk as well, now has a hint of a smile with this mood-lifter. A strict time limit of two hours, 8-10 in the evening, is perhaps more realistic than an outright ban. Plus, the ban on some noxious chemicals means no one should be able to mix this ‘deadly cocktail’ of pollutants—aluminium, chromium and barium salt, in particular, have been banished.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) seems thrilled to have devised eco-friendly crackers with reduced emissions of the deadly PM 10 and PM 2.5, and a 30 per cent reduction in oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. Even the sound levels they generate are within permissible levels, at 120 decibels. The same rules would apply for Christmas celebrations, bringing in a bit of uniform civil code of sorts. All our high-tech research labs, CSIR-NEERI and CEERI, Pilani, it seems, have been working hard to help us go green, rather than bring about a ‘zero firecracker’ Diwali.
The SC has also, very attentively, banned sale of crackers online.There’s a slight problem though. The CSIR admits its green crackers are not ready yet. Well, with 15 days to Diwali, hopefully the promise can be kept. Of course, the courts have duly directed the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation to monitor the chemical composition of firecrackers within two weeks. How exactly they would accomplish it, PESO knows best. The ordinary citizen, with dreadful memories of the hellish festival season last year, is right to be sceptical. Meanwhile, the firecracker retailer, with leftover stock from last year, may sell them off on the sly with the narrow window he’s been granted. Shades of green at least.