-By Shweta Raj Kanwar
October 11, 2017: Diwali, also known as the festival of lights is a practice not only followed by the Hindus but by people from all sections of society irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. This festival of lights has however drawn flak in the recent past from various sections of society due to extensive use of fire crackers leading to increased pollution levels, injuries to children as well as animals thereby making its use unsafe. In view of this, the Supreme Court has brought back its November 2016 order suspending all licences permitting the sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail, within the Delhi-National Capital Region. A bench headed by Justices AK Sikri on Monday said the apex court’s order of September 12, temporarily lifting the stay and permitting sale of firecrackers, would now be effective from November 1. While bringing back its 2016 order, the SC commented that it would be prudent to “try out at least one Diwali without firecrackers” in light of the severe pollution and smog-like conditions prevalent in the National Capital Region during this period.
This move by the SC, though applicable only in the National Capital as of now has evoked mixed responses from people from various states of Northeast India. While animal lovers have welcomed the move with open arms, others are of the opinion that banning the sale of fire crackers for few days will not help in the promotion of a healthy environment as the smoke from cars, factories and other pollution causing premises and equipments are regularly contributing to the deterioration of environment.
Speaking to TNT- The Northeast Today, Lorina Richmond, an ardent animal lover as well as a counselor from Shillong opines, “The pollution levels are getting really high and the use of fire crackers also acts as a nuisance to the society besides scaring the animals which of course is inevitable. I therefore welcome the Supreme Court order with open arms. Of course people can always light ‘Phooljhadis’ but I personally feel that use of fire crackers is not needed. I believe when we welcome the Goddess Laksmi, we are supposed to welcome her in peace and serenity in an environment full of lights. Diwali, so far as I have known, is a festival of lights and not festival of sound”.
She also goes on to state that the plight of animals becomes worst during Diwali as this is the time when dogs run away from home as they panic while adding that there have been many cases of pets getting lost during the festival.
However, Gaurav Lama who works in a private firm seems to differ from the above perspective. Speaking to TNT- The Northeast Today he says, “This is clearly a case of convenient hypocrisy. Why is there a ban only on the sale of fire crackers when there should also be a ban on animal slaughter as well? Why does not anybody propagate the ban on killing of innocent animals? This is not needed? There is no point of keeping a check on the noise for 3 days while the whole year round we have cars honking right outside our houses, where marble polishing factories cause air as well as noise pollution. As it is, we are already under so much regulation as bursting of fire crackers after 10 pm is not allowed, what more do you want? Is it not a case of judicial overreach? Why should we compromise on our traditions and customs for some thing that will not even yield fruitful results?”
Speaking to TNT- The Northeast Today, Shoubik Roy Choudhury, a journalist from Assam opines, “As we know, Diwali is a festival of lights which signifies the victory of good over evil. It was never a festival of sounds. It only took the form of ‘Festival of Sounds’ after the introduction of fireworks by Sivakasi fireworks located in a town named Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. I must admit that this move by the SC to ban sale of fireworks comes with a good intention but my biggest question to the honourable SC of India is whether a three day ban on the sale of fireworks will make a significant impact on the pollution levels? The ban should be all encompassing to more important things that have long term disastrous implications rather than looking at short term goals. Hence this is definitely not a good idea considering that its impact will only be on a sort term basis”.
Speaking to various shopkeepers in and around the region, a fire cracker seller in Guwahati on condition of anonymity said, “What is the point of this ‘Dikhawa’? (Pretention in Hindi). If they were really concerned about environment then why are they allowing the nuclear bombs to thrive? The testing of nuclear weapons do not cause any pollution? In fact it has wider repercussions than Diwali bombs. I do not think this decision matter at all. Diwali without firecrackers is incomplete!”. The other shopkeepers also opined on the same lines while expressing relief over the fact that the SC order was not applicable in their state for now.
Speaking to people from various sections of the society, it is clear that SC’s imposition comes at a time when many people are filled with enthusiasm over a festival that arrives just once a year and the decision may have dampened the spirits of Northeast Indians residing in Delhi but people in this part of the region are not willing to miss out on the fun that this festival of lights brings with it.
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