Spurious firecrackers being sold under guise of ‘green crackers’ in Mumbai: NGO
With the Supreme Court (SC) in the midst of reviewing the Centre’s plea on the use of green firecrackers this Diwali, Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Awaaz Foundation on Sunday wrote to the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), cautioning against the sale of spurious firecrackers being sold under the guise of ‘green crackers’ in Mumbai.
Last week, Awaaz Foundation had purchased 30 varieties of commercially available firecrackers in Mumbai for noise testing at RCF Ground in Chembur, in collaboration with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).
Of these 30 crackers, only 16 were found to be labelled with NEERI’s stamp of approval. NEERI, at SC’s instruction, has been working since January 2018 on developing new formulations for reducing emissions from fireworks, and is mandated to certify commercially available firecrackers. In addition to NEERI’s stamp of approval, the crackers are also mandated to be affixed with a QR (quick response) code that customers can scan them and obtain information about the crackers’ emission and composition.
“Despite this, half of the products available in the market are clearly not labelled, so there is really no compliance with SC’s directions,” said Sumaira Abdulali, director, Awaaz Foundation. In her letter to Dr S Chandrasekhar, director, NEERI, she also pointed out: “Out of the crackers claiming to be ‘green’ and having the NEERI stamp, only a few crackers carried a QR code, while the rest carried bar codes which do not fulfil the requirement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”
QR codes were mandated by SC to enable tracking of the emissions and content of the crackers. The Apex court also directed that the government should create awareness about QR codes to enable people to monitor authenticity of the crackers they purchase and agencies to ensure that no spurious crackers are distributed or sold, Abdulali explained.
“Even those crackers which are labelled green are shown to contain extremely toxic contents such as barium nitrate, which even SC has expressed caution over. Without having this QR code system in place, how are consumers expected to make informed decisions,” she asked.
Officials at NEERI and MPCB could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
However, Dr Rakesh Kumar, former director of NEERI, said, “QR codes for emission and compositional information are necessary for production and distribution of green crackers. This is a most essential step which has been supported by the honourable Supreme Court in the interest of clean air. Regulatory authorities need to increase public awareness on this tool.”