Till last year, Yogesh Pandey would spend up to Rs 2,000 on all kinds of firecrackers. This Diwali, however, the 17-year-old will deposit that amount in his bank account.
Pandey along with a bunch of his friends residing at Prithvi Palace, Borivli, have decided to support a circular pinned up on their building notice board urging members to celebrate a noise-free and eco-friendly festival. “We’ve realised that firecrackers create a lot of pollution, both air and noise. So we have decided to stay away from it,” said Pandey.
With two days to go for Diwali, housing societies, residents’ associations and NGOs have swung into action. They are putting up circulars and sending text messages requesting members to refrain from bursting crackers. This year, Mumbaiites can burst crackers only on their housing society premises or in playgrounds and opens spaces. There is a ban on bursting firecrackers after the 10pm deadline.
Residents of Prithvi Palace have designated a place in the compound for bursting of crackers. Likewise, the New Link Road Residents Forum has sent text messages to 250 of its members asking them to celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali.
The H-West Ward Citizens' Forum has also sent circulars to 200 housing societies in the civic ward. “Now we have to see on how well it’s implemented,” said Anandini Thakoor, Forum chairperson. “We won’t hesitate from registering police complaints against societies that do not obey the law.”
Three NGOs — Anti-Noise Cell Association of Medical Consultants, Awaaz Foundation, SOCLEEN along with individual anti-noise pollution activists and environmentalists — have set up a mechanism to monitor complaints against noise pollution via text messages (See Box).
“Since cell phones are widely used, this will help people send complaints. We will be able to take up the issue with the police and the government for suitable action,” said Sudhir Badami, an activist.
Some societies though have already made the eco-friendly transition. “Two years ago, firecrackers would start bursting 10 days before Diwali. This year, we haven’t heard a single one so far,” said Madhu Poplai, secretary of Pali Hill Residents Association.