It’s Diwali, but can you hear it happen? | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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It’s Diwali, but can you hear it happen?

The usual sounds of Laxmi bombs shaking the ground or rockets lighting up the sky were missing a day before Diwali, with a dip in firecracker sales this year.Whether it is the sustained efforts of activists to increase awareness about air and noise pollution or the rising price of firecrackers, the result is a quieter Diwali with people bursting fewer and less-noisier crackers.

mumbai Updated: Nov 12, 2012 01:17 IST
Nidhi Varma

The usual sounds of Laxmi bombs shaking the ground or rockets lighting up the sky were missing a day before Diwali, with a dip in firecracker sales this year.
Whether it is the sustained efforts of activists to increase awareness about air and noise pollution or the rising price of firecrackers, the result is a quieter Diwali with people bursting fewer and less-noisier crackers.

Activists promoting quieter festivals say that Diwali is indeed becoming quieter. “Certainly, there is more awareness amongst people and the streets are much quieter, though people should maintain this and stop using firecrackers completely,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation, an anti-noise organisation.

But rising prices too have a role to play. “Prices of firecrackers have risen by about 20%, so sales have dropped as compared to previous years,” said JP Selva, a firecracker distributor at Dharavi.

Firecracker dealers said it was too early to say whether people were buying less-noisy firecrackers. “People are in a festive mood and are buying firecrackers, but they are doing it more responsibly. People inquire about permissible firecrackers and read instructions on the boxes,” said a member of the Mumbai and Thane District Firework Dealer’s Welfare Association.

Schools too are adding to the campaign by promoting a Diwali that is about light and not noise. About 19 city schools made their students read out Diwali oaths on not bursting firecrackers.

“The whole anti-noise campaign is good and we are following it. But the increase in firecracker prices doesn’t stop us from bursting a few,” said Vivaan, a 14-year old student from Kandivli’s Lokhandwala Complex.

Companies don’t list chemicals used in firecrackers: report
Nidhi Varma
Mumbai: Firecracker manufactures don’t list the chemical contents of products on their packaging despite a 2005 Supreme Court regulation asking all manufacturers to do so, according to a report.

The report lists popular firecracker brands such as Standard, Coronation and Vanitha as among those manufactures who fail to mention the chemical composition of their firecrackers on the pack (see box).

Anti-noise organisation Awaaz Foundation and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) conducted tests to find the chemical content of firecrackers and the hazards associated with these chemicals, which was released two days ago. “It is essential that people know about the hazards of harmful chemicals,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor, Awaaz Foundation.

So far, no action has been taken against these manufacturers. “The local municipal corporation, director of explosives and police are authorities that can take legal action or order a ban on violators of any regulation,” said Sanjay Bhuskute, public relations officer, MPCB. He also said that as firecracker-manufacturing units are based outside Maharashtra, it becomes difficult for them to prosecute them.

Firecracker dealers defend themselves saying that it is unsafe to give out chemical contents of crackers. “These chemicals are readily available and people can risk their lives trying to duplicate the manufacturing process,” said an official from the Mumbai & Thane District Firework Dealers Welfare Association.