Today, the occasion of Dhanteras, marks the beginning of Diwali. While most look forward to celebrating this festival in their homes with their family, actor Hrithik Roshan prefers to stay away from the city.
When asked about his plans, the actor revealed he would be leaving town: "My son has a bronchital problem. So I'll be taking my family to some place where there is no air and noise pollution due to firecrackers." And to think that, "At one time," Hrithik recalls, "I used to burst 10,000 crackers."
Interestingly, more and more people are becoming aware of the pollution caused by bursting firecrackers. Recently, the Maharastra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Mumbai Police and NGO Awaaz Foundation tested 15 crackers, of which eight reportedly crossed the decibel (dB) level of 125 dBs that is prescribed by the Supreme Court (SC).
As per the SC order, sound restriction for residential areas is 55db from 6 am to 10 pm and 45db from 10 pm to 6 am; in commercial areas it is 65db and 55db, and in industrial zones it is 85db and 75db, respectively. The decibel level of 125 is allowed only in open spaces.
Not surprisingly, the pollution levels during Diwali see a 50 to 100 per cent increase. Consequently, for the first time, the Asthma and Bronchitis Association of India (ABAI) has written a letter to the chief minister and the Commissioner of Police asking them to consider a ban on crackers emitting excessive smoke. The crackers that cause most trouble are anars, chakris and snake pills.
Hazards caused by crackers include loss in hearing, increase in blood pressure, heart attacks and sleeping disturbance.
No wonder another Bollywood couple, Kajol and Ajay Devgn, has informed their seven-year-old daughter Nysa of the minuses of bursting crackers during Diwali. The actor became a father for the second time in September. He asserts that the family will have a quiet, peaceful and simple Diwali, without any firecrackers: "Nysa understands that crackers are not good for the environment for the amount of noise and air pollution they cause. So we won't be bursting any." Devgn says his daughter will light just a couple of sparklers (phuljadis): "But that's only for 'shagun', to start the festive celebrations on an auspicious note, and to symbolise spreading light."