The Supreme Court has reinstated a ban on the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali – citing World Health Organisation data – amid concerns of a repeat of last year’s ‘emergency situation’ that led to a 10-day black haze post Diwali. The haze was 16 times more toxic than acceptable Indian air pollution standards.
Anti-ban Sound and Fury
The ban has triggered a divisive social media mobilisation on religious lines by profirecracker groups, prompting the environment minister to retract his tweets welcoming the ban. However, academics have debunked the anti-ban ‘sound and fury’ and leaders have appealed to ‘civilised masses’ to learn from the climate-sensitive faiths of India’s tribes and fight climate change. Climate experts have said the ban was a good first step.
Breaking Air Quality Norms
India’s hazardous air quality exceeding international safe levels has become a periodic concern, even as the government struggles to enforce its own pollution norms on fossil fuelled utilities, vehicles and paddy burning farmers.
Poor Air: Beyond Delhi, and Diwali
Religious festivals, or big events such as FIFA tournament, help people to highlight the issue of toxic air which inflicts the entire country, not just the Capital, on daily basis, and not just during the festivals. The AQI of the top five polluted cities was way above safe levels between Oct1 and Oct15th. Delhi recorded 268, Ghaziabad – 338 Kanpur – 234 Agra – 215 Moradabad – 208