Politics Over Pollution


A lot of hue and cry is being made over the ban of crackers in National Capital Region (NCR) by Supreme Court of India. Though majority of Delhites and residents living in NCR are heaving sigh of relief after the Supreme Court order, there is a consistent campaign against this order. There are people, who are giving a communal color to the order of the court. Yes, it is true that Diwali is a great festival of Hindus and crackers have become part and partial of the festival, but there is an issue of pollution attacked to it. While celebrating our festivals we cannot ignore our own well-being and health. Festivals brings cheers in our life, but if our over enthusiasm brings jeers, it is better to get rid of the over enthusiasm and behave as responsible citizens of the country and behave like civilized persons.

Diwali is a very old festival and there are many stories for its celebration. According to one story, Rama had returned Ayodhya after completing his forest days of 14 years and people of the country had celebrated the day by igniting lamps. According to another story, Krishna had killed Narakasur on 14th day of the first fortnight of Kartik month and had liberated 18 thousands of princes from his prison. The next day people had celebrated the victory of Krishna over Narakasur. There is another narrative associated with Ashoka, the great Mauryan Emperor of Magadha. According to Buddhist legend, Ashoka had converted to Buddhism on this day after Kalinga War. Since then, this festival is being celebrated every year. There is another narrative, which claims that Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankar of Jains had attained Nirvana on this very day and hence, they are celebrating it as Diwali.

Sikhs have special significance for this day of Diwali. Guru Hargovind Singh his many followers were in the Gwalior fort as the prisoners of Jahangir. Guru was able not only to free himself from the prison, but also his followers. After getting freedom from the prison, he had reached Golden Temple of Amritsar on the same day of Diwali. It was double bonanza for their followers and they celebrated Diwali as Bandi (Prisoner) Chhod (Freedom) Day.
In this way, we see that Diwali is not only associated with Hindus, rather it is associated with almost all the major indigenous religions of India. Hindus worship Goddess Lakshmi in the hope that they would become richer by worshiping the Goddess of wealth. People enlighten lamps made of clay and lightening by other ways is also done in a decent manner. Along with this people use crackers and other fireworks.

These fireworks are the bone of contention these days, because they create a lot of air and sound pollution. Many get injuries because of the mishandling of the fireworks and each year, there are reports of death due to these fireworks. With the passage of time, the fireworks have taken dangerous scale and for last two to three decades, some organisations are campaigning against the use of crackers. The recent Supreme Court order was in response to this campaign against the fireworks, which are spelling doom for people by polluting air. There is sound pollution, too, which caused hearing impairments to many people and after Diwali, the number of people complaining about their ear problems increases. Sound pollution is causing headache and depression among people, too.

Hence, it is welcome decision of the Court, but still there are people, who are criticizing it and giving it a communal color by claiming that only Hindu festivals are restricted by the Court, not the festivals of other religions. They forget that Hindus form 80 percent of Indian population and they cannot be compared with other religions having less population, because the number is more, the capacity to raise pollution level is also more.

Anyway, now Supreme Court should ban crackers on other occasions as well. Cities having population more than 10 Lakh should be declared negative areas for crackers, because they suffer from pollution all over the year. Let us ensure no crackers are used in marriages, festivals, victory in elections and in all religious festivities in big cities having a population of over 10 Lakh.

-Contributed by Kriti

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