Every year around Diwali, the Delhi NCR region is choked by the waves of smog from crackers and crop burning.
With no end in sight to either of these activities despite government policies and bans, the health of the people who live in the region is constantly tested and their lungs forced to breathe toxic air.
The steady decrease in the air quality index this year has already started, leading people to stay indoors more often than not. Its easier for those of us who have access to air purifiers and air pollution masks to continue living life with minimal impacts on our health and immunity but the staggering chunk of our population that cannot afford these lifesaving luxuries will ablest to face the worst of air pollution!
Do we care enough?
There have been countless efforts in the past to decrease cracker burning, even the introduction of “green crackers”. However, it does not seem to deter the ignorant few from buying crackers, these are not only harmful to the environment but produced in the toxic conditions and have high fatality rates amongst children, mostly child labors.
So, the question is this, do we care enough to prevent something that is not only harmful to the environment but also human life? And what is it that exactly will stop the people of Delhi from purchasing crackers this Diwali?
The answer in my mind is simple – ban the production of these products! If we banned the production of crackers, then, there would be none to buy and burn. And then why just stop at crackers? Ban the production of single-use plastic. Ban cigarettes that are harmful not only for smokers but for anyone in their general vicinity.
It seems that attempts to ban such products by the government have fallen short because of the lack of public compliance (in some cases lake of forethought. I mean in one month really enough of heads up to remove something like single-use plastics? Maybe a deadline of 2nd October 2020 would have been more realistic.
Which brings me back to my original question, what will stop the people of Delhi from purchasing crackers this Diwali?
The only way to effectively reduce cracker burning seems to be to create a social narrative where burning crackers is as unacceptable as not having a toilet in your house. Only then, thought this kind of pressure will people stop burning crackers. There are always ways around policies and bans. But the disapproval of society is something that one carries around like a bad stench.
And are we doing enough? That question is one that I cannot answer. But, I can say this with increasing awareness in schools and workplaces, we are working in the right direction.