This Diwali we can pay tribute to all those who died at the firecracker factory explosion in Muddalipatti near Sivakasi by paying more attention to safety and bringing down our Diwali spending by half.
We can also contribute the money saved towards the rehabilitation of families who lost their dear ones in the fire. Thirty nine people died when a large stock of explosives blew up at the Om Shakti Fireworks industry near Sivakasi in September, this year.
So, first and foremost, we could cut our spending on firecrackers that kill and maim those who produce them, causes noise pollution, turn the air around us toxic and also cause a large number of personal injuries and even death, in addition to destruction of property.
Last year, Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi alone reported 200 cases of burn injuries caused by firecrackers. One can imagine the magnitude of the problem when one considers the fact that this number pertains to just one hospital in one city in the country!
Even if these firecrackers are made to exact standards, by their very nature, they can cause fire or injuries due to unexpected accidents or even careless handling by the users. And if they are sub-standard, they are guaranteed to cause destruction.
Last December for example, a celebratory firecracker bursting (after a cricket tournament organised for children) in Mumbai had resulted in two children receiving serious burn injuries. The firecracker,meant to go up, had moved sideways, burning the children.
Take conical anars that are responsible for so many accidents. If you look at the quality specifications formulated by the Bureau of Indian Standards, it is most important to avoid formation of cavities or sections of loose powder or air bags while filling the pyrotechnic composition in the flower pot. If this is not strictly adhered to, the anar could well explode.
That's exactly what happened in a case that was brought before the apex consumer court and decided in 2003.
Shivan Kumar, a resident of Pune, in 1997 lit an anar on Diwali which was bought from a licenced dealer. However, instead of coming down in a cascade of beautiful sparks, it just burst like a bomb even as he was lighting it, injuring his hand.
The consumer court awarded him with a compensation of Rs. 50,000 along with 12 per cent interest calculated from the day of the accident. (M/S Anil Fire Works Factory and another Vs Mr Shivan Kumar, RP no 2137 of 2003)
Coming to the decorative lights, they have become an integral part of Diwali these days, replacing the traditional diyas. In the absence of any quality control or mandatory safety standards for these lights, one needs to take certain extra precautions.
For example, make sure that there are no loose connections or breakages in the wire. If you are fixing them on a wall, ensure that you do not nail into them. Do not put them on metallic objects or grills and ensure they are protected from water. Always unplug them before touching them.
Have a safe Diwali!
Prabha Bhalla: The shopkeeper from whom I bought a decorative table lamp assured me that it is not from China, but when I opened the packet, I found that it was made in China. Now he is insisting that I buy something else from his shop instead of the lamp. Can't I get my money back?
For having misled you about the origin of the lamp, he is guilty of unfair trade practice. Since the lamp is not what he has made it out to be, it also comes under the definition of a 'defective product' under the Consumer Protection Act. He has to refund your money.