The city’s green conscience seems to be growing stronger each year, as more and more people are opting for a quieter, if not completely cracker-free Diwali.
In Shashikala Kamble’s Siddharth Nagar mohalla in Worli, for instance, the tradition of bursting several cartons of firecrackers with all the children is slowly fading away.
“In the past three or four years, the noise pollution in our locality during the festival has reduced by more than 50 %,” said Kamble, who runs a women’s organisation in the area.
Her family stopped bursting crackers several years ago, and on Friday their focus will be the Laxmi puja in the afternoon and the karanji, chakli and other Diwali food at night. “My daughter is a school teacher, and I know that many schools now are contributing to make children more aware about the environment,” said Kamble.
Amogh Nimkar (11) reflects the changing attitude among the youth, as he prepares himself for just a few sparklers and noise-free crackers this weekend. “My mother has told me it harms the environment, so I will resist,” said the Mira Road resident.
For youth in many families, keeping away from firecrackers also involves fighting with family traditions, which proves difficult.
“Elders in the family have developed a consciousness about pollution in the past two years, but because we have always burst crackers together, eventually everyone gives in,” said Ankit Madan (18), an engineering student who has asked his uncle not to break the tradition of bringing him crackers at their family get-together this year.
In Madan’s Chembur housing society, however, the change is beginning to show. “Everyone is making small efforts at individual levels, so the enthusiasm has reduced if not the noise,” he said.
There are many in the city, however, who have a long way to go before they act on their intentions to cut down on crackers. “Noise and pollution are things we understand, but this is a special festival that comes once a year, and so we participate in the tradition for the sake of the children,” said Kavita Joshi, a housewife from Vile Parle.
Keeping check on noise
The state has asked the police to crack down on people who burst firecrackers that exceed permissible noise levels. The police have 350 sound meters while the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board will monitor noise levels across the state with its 120 sound meters.