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Needed, more awareness

You must have been tired of reading and replying to the ‘Happy Diwali’ messages. But how happy was this Diwali? Not, quite for most of them. Avishek G Dastidar and Joyeeta Ghosh report.

delhi Updated: Oct 19, 2009 00:41 IST

You must have been tired of reading and replying to the ‘Happy Diwali’ messages. But how happy was this Diwali?

Not, quite for most of them.

From asthma patients to the elderly to to pets — all who wanted to sleep peacefully. Data suggests, noise and air pollution were much higher this year compared to last year.

But Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has a different take. She said over the years, the government’s campaign has managed to discourage Delhiites from bursting firecrackers.

“If you remember, people used to burst crackers for 20 days prior to Diwali and that peaked on the Diwali night. That was a few years ago. Now, people burn crackers only on Diwali night and not on the other days,” she said. Every school had contributed to the campaign against crackers, she added.

“Children are telling parents to celebrate Diwali only with lights. This year too, schools told me that buying of crackers has been on the decline,” she said.

Echoing her, Usha Ram, principal, Laxman Public School said: “The school’s eco club with their awareness drives have really helped cut down on crackers.”

Why then has there been a rise in pollution levels this year? “Earlier people used to start bursting crackers a week ahead of Diwali. But now it’s just a one-day affair,” Ram said.

Pankaj Aggarwal, secretary general of RWAs Joint Front, said the campaign alone cannot be successful unless backed by administrative action.

“There is a huge amount of non-standardised firecrackers thronging the markets. These pollute more and make more noise,” he added.

Annie Koshi, principal, St Mary’s School, said anti-cracker campaigns could work if they start at least two-three weeks ahead, not two days before Diwali. Children often participate in awareness drives as part of their school curricular and may not necessarily stop bursting crackers, she added.

“The concept of pollution and its ill-effects have to be made more tangible to the students,” she said.

She suggested the government should work in tandem with schools to make the awareness drives more effective.