The money that would have bought crackers could now go into buying blankets to keep the Sikkim earthquake survivors warm.
Sonika Khaduri, 12, spends around Rs1,000 every year on a bunch of crackers: from chakras to bombs to sparklers. But this year, she will save some of that money and donate it towards relief work for those affected by the Sikkim earthquake on September 18, which left more than a 100 people dead.
"I am just not that excited about bursting crackers this time," said Khaduri, a Class 8 student of DonBosco School in Naigaon.
Students from several schools across the city are looking to pitch in by raising money for Sikkim, galvanised by an initiative by Greenline, the environment forum of the Don Bosco Development Society. Others will be channelling the money they might have spent on crackers into books, stationery or other educational material.
Last year, thousands of students across the city participated in a signature campaign organised by the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, saving Rs15 crores in the process. The Samiti is in the process of conducting the campaign this year too, in schools and colleges and aims to save Rs 20 crores, through student pledges that they will spend the money on more useful things instead.
"Child labour and pollution were both factors that stopped me from bursting firecrackers," said Priyanka Jadhav, 17, a Class 12 student of Mahatma Phule School in Parel. Her school pledged to save Rs32 lakh last year and aims to top that this year.
More than 3,500 students from 35 city schools affiliated to the Children's Movement for Civic Awareness have also started going on rallies and drives to highlight the environmental consequences of bursting crackers.
More than 15 students of Sardar Vallabhai Patel Vividhlaxmi Vidyalaya in Kandivli will go door to door to nearby housing societies two days from now, telling people about the harmful effects of bursting crackers. "We will request adults and children to burst crackers and have a safe and environment friendly Diwali," said Viraj Doomadia, Class 9 student of the school.