Diwali is one of the most auspicious festivals for the Hindu population, and firecrackers are synonymous with this yearly festivity. People believe that celebration is incomplete without firecrackers. Every year around this time, considering the pollution index of states, a lot of talk goes around banning them. However, it is not that easy. As the festival is of significant importance to the Hindu community, any ban on firecrackers invokes political backlash from Hindu groups and trader bodies. Apart from religious sentiments, there are health and economic repercussions too.
Last year, ahead of the ban on crackers in the national capital, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in a video given to ETV Bharat, questioned why firecrackers are banned only during Hindu festivals.
Delhi has always been struggling to control the pollution index around this time, and not only firecrackers but the burning of stubble is equally responsible for the same. While people believe that burning firecrackers is deeply linked with the Diwali celebration, putting a ban on it during Hindu festivities will hurt the religious sentiments of the community.
India’s firecracker industry is roughly estimated to be worth Rs5,000 crore. Majority of the production units are stationed in Tamil Nadu’s Sivakasi, which is also regarded as the nerve centre of fireworks. Every year, the government flip-flops and restrictions by courts have plunged the sector into a crisis. In 2018, the Supreme Court permitted the sales of green crackers, but it has not helped the industry to prosper. In its recent report, The Economic Times mentioned that there are 1,070 manufacturing facilities of various sizes in and around the Virudhunagar region of Tamil Nadu including Sivakasi.
The governments and courts’ decision to ban firecrackers arises from its impact on the air quality and health of individuals. Now, considering the COVID-19 pandemic, the concern has increased as poor air quality might have adverse effects on coronavirus patients. As far as Delhi is considered, the air quality reaches the severe category due to bursting crackers and massive burning of stubble in the neighbouring state of Punjab.
The onset of winter and pollution produced by vehicles adds to the degrading pollution index.
This year, Diwali is being celebrated on November 4. Ahead of the festival, the Delhi government recently announced a “complete ban” on the sale, storage, use of firecrackers in the national capital.