Violating Supreme Court order shows our lack of education on air and noise pollution

Violating Supreme Court order shows our lack of education on air and noise pollution

Chetan Bhattarai | November 10, 2018 14:45 hrs

GUWAHATI: The Supreme Court of India, in a recent order, stated that on Diwali night, crackers should be burst between 8 PM and 10 PM. The apex court, stressed on bursting eco-friendly green crackers that were less toxic and low on noise. The order led to a lot of curiosity among the people as what might happen if it was violated.

Jokes were cracked and memes were made on the social media. Well, honestly, it seemed that the people were ready to violate the order as the intense bursting of crackers was reported just after 10 PM. That may be due to post dinner and post puja celebrations when everyone goes out and starts lighting the crackers. Most parts of the city reported crackers being lit after the 10 PM deadline and in some areas it continued till midnight and beyond.

In order to understand the mood of the city, G Plus conducted a poll on what people have to say about the Supreme Court order. The poll on whether the order was violated and so the district administration was rendered helpless got us many responses. The G Plus poll findings would have raised a lot of eyebrows in the top court as almost 84% of the 1,800 participants agreed that the order was violated. Only a meagre 16% agreed that it was not and the district administration was on its toes and levying fines on a few citizens who were found violating the order. 

The majority of respondents were of the opinion that the SC order had not been understood well. The SC was concerned about the noise and air pollution due to the bursting of crackers and gave its view on what should be done. Some of the participants pointed out that it was mainly meant for bigger cities like Delhi which already has a lot of vehicular air pollution, resulting in smog and other visibility issues. Guwahati is not like Delhi and the smog during Diwali is not an issue here, felt many. 

Many respondents were worried about the environment and some were of the opinion that Diwali was harmful for pets and other animals of the city. Apart from noise pollution, the splinters, bright light and other burning parts from pyrotechnics are responsible for ruining the habitats of birds and also injuring many. The noise pollution is bad for pets like dogs and cats that run from one place to the other during Diwali in a state of fear. It is indeed a very bad evening for the pets, opined many. Elderly and those having respiratory problems are badly affected, so are new-borns, pointed out the respondents. 

Respondents were also furious that the administration did almost nothing about the order. A few eyewash detentions were made and there was no awareness drive on the part of the administration to educate Guwahatians about the health effects of air pollution during Diwali. Some respondents were of the opinion that traditionally, Diwali was about lighting earthen lamps or diyas and decorating the homes with rangolis and not about bursting crackers.

Well, our poll was about Guwahati on Diwali night and as news poured in from other parts of the country, it was clear that the Supreme Court order was clearly violated. In Delhi, where the apex court sits, air pollution levels shot up from around 280 units at 7 PM on Diwali evening to 999+ within hours which was more than ten times the permissible limits making the air purely toxic to breathe. The Supreme Court order was indeed issued with good intent; it is we the citizens, who failed to understand it.

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