By – Tejas Bobe
After a year of waiting, finally the festive season is here again. Diwali is probably the most popular festival in India, and it is also celebrated worldwide. The festival is associated with the triumph of good over bad, a festival of lights. As the festival is quite a big deal in India, it is celebrated with much enthusiasm. However, as a way of celebration, it is not uncommon for people to burst firecrackers under the name of celebration. During the festive season, air pollution in India is off the charts, with metropolitans like Delhi referred to as ‘gas chambers’ due to the amount of pollution they witness. We already know the ill effects of firecrackers and how it accelerates global warming. But, apart from humans, is only the environment affected by the firecrackers?
It is no secret or lesser known fact that firecrackers are a nuisance to the environment as well as humans and other living organisms. However, when accounting for the damage they do, most people tend to ignore the problems faced by animals and birds. If we take it into account, we will realise that they are the ones who suffer the most. Animals and birds can be the direct and indirect victims, as they are affected by both, the pollution that firecrackers cause and in many cases, have to face direct injuries and/or burns due to the reckless bursting of firecrackers by the people. Along with that, the continuous noise of firecracker bursting can also cause a longlasting psychological impact on them.
Physical Damage faced:
Children enjoy bursting crackers. However, often, knowingly or unknowingly they end up being a huge nuisance to the stray animals. For example, there have been various incidents where children have tied up crackers to the tails of animals and they are left nowhere to run. Many of the times the animals end up facing severe burns and injuries. On the other hand, crackers like rockets cause a huge problem for the birds too. Sometimes a misguided rocket can hit the nest of a bird, which can take the lives of the young ones. It is also very much possible that a bird might end up getting hit by crackers mid-flight, considering the sheer number of crackers in metropolitans like Mumbai and Delhi. Though the children might see it as a fun factor, it is the mute animals that actually suffer through the whole process.
Animals like dogs and birds have a wider hearing range than humans. We can escape the noise of the crackers, but they can’t. Their ears, being sensitive to a wider range of frequencies than humans, the noise emitted from the noisier crackers can end up damaging their hearing senses. The constant bombardment of such noises can also end up traumatising them for life. Animals like cats are very sensitive to any kind of stimulus. The sudden and sometimes constant bursting can put them in immense stress all the time. It is the same for almost every animal and bird and they feel threatened by the sounds.
We’re all aware of the effects of air pollution and the fact that crackers contain poisonous chemicals that are not only harmful for the environment, but also a health hazard for all the living beings. Bursting crackers causes addition of harmful chemicals and very fine dust, which causes intoxication of the air. Inhaling such air can cause various respiratory diseases, while the long term exposure can be lethal. It can lead to premature death of the birds and animals that are exposed to huge amounts of toxic air (as in case with Delhi every year). Also, firecracker factories are notorious for the lack of safety. They do not take proper precautions, and hence the harmful chemicals seeps into the nearby environment. If the factories are set up near forested or agricultural land or near some water body, it could prove to be quite deadly. These factories also end up dumping the toxic chemical waste into their surroundings without proper treatment. Every year there are various incidences of birds and animals being killed in mass scales through such chemical poisoning however still, proper precautions are never taken.
To counter such incidences, every year ‘cracker ban’ is brought into effect in some parts of India, but to no avail. Whenever a governing body tries to impose a cracker ban, people feel that they are trying to interfere with the celebrations and thus, retaliate. People need to understand that these crackers are like a time bomb, every cracker we burst only turns the clock faster. The quicker we get rid of these crackers, the quicker we can save ourselves and others from the doom that awaits us. We need to realise that festivals can be celebrated without causing damage to the environment also. It is the need of the hour for us to make a rapid switch to a greener future, and pledge ourselves to celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali. A reasonable alternative for crackers this Diwali would be green crackers. Thus, we can both have fun and not damage the environment or harm others at the same time.
Firecrackers might be fun, but it is a momentary happiness, while the pollution and the harm they cause otherwise, might be permanent. As humans, it is our duty to care for the environment and the well being of all the organisms around it. It is essential for our own survival that we take precautions so as to neither harm the environment, nor the living beings that are a part of it. It is essential that people realise the problem needs immediate attention otherwise there could be serious and unmendable repercussions and damages caused.