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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

let us celebrate Deepavali ~ the same grandeur it has been from our childhood ***

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), organic compounds that contain fluorine and hydrogen atoms, are the most common type of organofluorine compounds.  We use them regularly albeit not knowing what it is all about !!!  ~ more so by affluent sections of the society !

Deepavali, the festival of Lights enthuses everyone and is celebrated all over the Country with so much of enthusiasm.  People wear new clothes, eat lot of sweets and celebrate with crackers.  For decades now, we have had the pleasure of celebrating Deepavali with all its abundant fervour.  The very thought of the festival would enthuse – as it would provide everything in abundance – sweets, visiting and sharing with friends and relatives, watching movies and more….
pic credit :  Sripriya Ayyangar.

For the past 5 decades as I can vouch – great mornings on Deepavali day started with customary ‘ganga snanam’ ~ wearing new clothes, falling at the feet of parents, rushing out to explode crackers [bijili and kuruvi vedis mostly] – getting gleeful on seeing them explode, visiting elders and relatives, sharing sweets, talking to people – happy, very happy moments .. ** fire  crackers – the small explosives designed to produce noise and the eye-capturing fireworks – both on the ground and on the air have captivated people.   Every year you get to hear newer names – this year, they say AK47, Break dance, Golden Bonanza, Mumbai Indians, Oh Calcutta are some of the names quoted in the circles as  wonders………

For ages the crowded Parrys would get more congested as Bunder Street, Badrian Street, Anderson Street all will look similar – only shops selling crackers.  All roads would lead to shops selling fire crackers of various manufacturers including – Standard, National, Sri Kaliswari, Ayyan ….. – you can see hundreds of shops -  still all do roaring business.  Are we not missing them ? – what is the present day youth getting to celebrate ??

Somehow one gets a feeling that there have been attempts to somehow dampen the spirits of Deepavali (as is the case of many other festivals) – as every year, we hear of more and more restrictions from various Governmental authorities.  Earlier, some hue and cry was raised about child labour in the fire works manufacturing – it the concern was real, why the same was not raised in candle manufacturing, hotel industry  and other places – where child labour is apparent.  Then, talk  about the pollution control. 

Can any of these authorities think of a similar ban on say – sale of liquor, at least restricting the timing or say screening  of cinema etc., In 1987 the Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement, established requirements that began the worldwide phaseout of ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). These requirements were later modified, leading to the phaseout in 1996 of CFC production in all developed nations. In 1992 the Montreal Protocol was amended to establish a schedule for the phaseout of HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). HCFCs are less damaging to the ozone layer than CFCs, but still contain ozone-destroying chlorine. US and other European Nations would want all third World countries to stop using all comforts  but they themselves would do little.  Dare your heart – will you stop travelling in a diesel vehicle, can you sleep without an airconditioner, travel in a non-a/c vehicle, be in Office without centralized air conditioning – and what else pollution is ?? conveniently forgotten when it the daily utility of rich and affluent

Deepavali ‘the festival of lights’ is always enchanting – an occasion to wear new clothes, eat sweets, burst crackers, be with friends and relatives – a festivity which brings enjoyment…. – the festival  grandly celebrated all over the country  – at Triplicane, it coincides with Acharyar Sri Manavala Mamunigal Uthsavam and there would always be grand purappadu of Sri Parthasarathi Swami with Acharyar on the  mada veethis taking  4 hours or more  – ‘hundreds of 10000 walahs and beautiful fire works lit the air’ as people celebrate Deepavali.

Air conditioning was a luxury even in Europe  40 years ago, now-a-days, air conditioning no longer seems extravagant and its popularity has  soared. Air conditioners consume huge amounts of energy, though, and that’s adding to climate change. The US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses for all its electrical needs. That power largely comes from polluting power stations, adding to the warmer climate. And air-conditioning in vehicles burns more fuel, making even more greenhouse gases. With the demand for air conditioning rising worldwide, it’s reckoned that in around 30 years’ time more energy could be used for cooling than for heating. Air conditioning also pumps out heat straight into the atmosphere. Like a fridge, it takes heat from the inside of a building or car, then transfers it to the warm outside. That extra heat makes cities hotter, raising night-time temperatures by up to 2C, which then encourages people to turn up their air conditioning even higher. Air conditioning systems also use powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. And as the climate grows hotter, there’s more need to stay cool. It’s a vicious circle.

Now get to know the context of Writ petition and the present directive in Arjun Gopal and Ors. Vs. Union of India and Ors.- the order in Delhi prohibiting sale of crackers.  Firstly, the order comes so close to the festival on October 19 that makes it extremely difficult for authorities to enforce it. It would have been desirable if the court had given ample time to both authorities and traders before taking such a decision.


Media  reports  suggest that it is  around this time every year that air quality in the capital and its adjoining areas starts plunging -due to the onset of winter, coupled with crop burning in Punjab and Haryana and bursting of firecrackers on Diwali. Pollution did worsen considerably in the last fortnight, with PM2.5 levels rising by up to 11 times between September 22 and October 8. This is primarily because of crop burning in Haryana and Punjab, which shot up considerably in the last two weeks. Weather has played its part, too. On most days of October so far, winds have been blowing from north to southeast, bringing haze and toxins into Delhi. Data from last three years showed air quality worsened on Diwali and the day after -it was especially bad last year  ~  now this time, by order, the children of Delhi would be forced to miss the assortment of dazzling fireworks while people would travel emit noxious gases – by design, the  decline of the tradition — which has been linked to Diwali for 300 years or so — still feels regrettable. It wasn’t just the children of our family who looked forward to the thrill of the fireworks, it was the adults as well, who recollected their own childhoods in the process.

Fireworks industry here is shocked over the Supreme Court banning sale of crackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) around New Delhi, a major market for the Sivakasi fireworks.  Had it been some other industry, ‘those center opposing leftist intellectual parties’ would have gathered to raise hue and cry !!

It is read that according to the plea, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) rendered a decision on 10th November, 2016 in Original Application and other connected matters in which it is recorded that there are seven major contributors of air pollution in the NCR and these are: 1. Construction activity and carriage of construction material; 2. Burning of Municipal Solid Waste and other waste; 3. Burning of agriculture residue; 4. Vehicular Pollution; 5. Dust on the roads; 6. Industrial and power house emission including fly-ash; 7. Emissions from Hot-Mix Plants and Stone Crushers.

In other words, the submission of the applicant was that fireworks are not a major contributor of air pollution. Now cometh the ban on crackers only !!  - if only the motive is to ensure air pollution is minimised, then why not take action against the big polluters? The air quality in NCR is at most affected for a week by firecrackers during a period of 52 weeks. The remainder weeks witness high pollution levels mainly due to road-dust, vehicular pollution and burning of bio-mass as per a report by IIT Kanpur.

Delhi, so also many other cities use diesel generators extensively  -  in malls, hotels, hospitals, and apartment complexes among others which add to the rising PM10 levels. Construction is a roaring business in every city and most of the brick supply comes from kilns from areas like Noida, Ghaziabad, and Sohna which also add to the pollution. Social media is full of comparisons in which people are questioning the reasoning behind this decision. Some find it akin to banning Christmas trees on Christmas and goats on Bakr-Eid, which does not happen.

Those against crackers – first stop driving and riding your rickety diesel vehicles seeing diesel cheaper than petrol.  Travel by public transport, save fuel, emit less of pollutants and in office do not use elevators or air conditioners and at home learn to sleep under fans and not power sucking airconditioners.  Are people willing to regulate these and fight against tanneries and other industries that pollute air and water – simply blaming firecrackers for overall rising pollution is just a convenient excuse… .. and those who raised your voices against Sivakasi manufacturers for child-labour, never eat in any hotel employing child labour, don’t buy sport equipments including Cricket bats from places employing child labour and certainly no garment emanating from child labour oriented markets.

Let us celebrate Deepavali in style in the same tradition that we have been doing in the last century !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

11th Oct 2017.

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