Saturday, November 10, 2007


GANGTOK, November 08: There may be just two days left for the festival of lights – Diwali, but firecrackers, which have been bought from Siliguri, are being sold like hot cakes in Gangtok.
This may sound perfectly normal for times like Diwali, but very few are aware that bursting of loud crackers have been banned by the Supreme Court. And it is applicable in Sikkim as well.
People engaged in the business may be aware of the ill-effects of bursting crackers and the ban, but firecrackers continue to slip through Rangpo illegally. With huge quantities of crackers supplied into the State, the Police seemed ignorant of the trade or are unbothered.
Not only the Lall Bazaar shopping area, but firecrackers that are louder than the permissible limits are available in all the shops lined up along the National Highway.
Despite increase in the prices of raw materials needed to make firecrackers and an untimely rainfall which affected the drying up of made-up crackers, manufacturers in Siliguri had expressed confidence about a bumper sale this time, especially with bulk orders from Sikkim.
According to Jayanta Singha Roy, who supplies fire crackers to Sikkim, Bihar and some other parts of the country, he is flooded with supply orders from Sikkim.
It may be recalled that stringent laws against the use of loud crackers, for instance the bursting of firecrackers has been banned in the silence zone, that is, 100 meters from hospitals, education institutions, courts and religious places.
SP East, MS Tuli told that the Supreme Court has banned bursting of loud crackers between 10 pm and 6 am. Only fireworks emitting light are permitted after 10 pm.
But crackers continue to blaze after 10 pm too.
The Police on the other hand have said that those found bursting sound firecrackers after that will be prosecuted.
Diwali has always been associated with crackers and fireworks. The bursting of crackers is today the most important and eagerly awaited part of the Diwali celebrations, especially for children. People spend huge amounts on firecrackers every year ranging from rockets, bombs and wheels to anars, phuljharis and hunters. Despite the ban, people seem to indulge in the festivities in full swing. For 15 year old Sameer, Diwali is not Diwali without loud crackers. “I enjoy bursting crackers during Diwali. I prefer the really loud ones. But those types are hard to find in the market. Last year, my father got them from Siliguri for me. Even this year, he will bring them from Siliguri,” he says.
Elsewhere in Patna, students have come out in the open and chanted slogans like ‘say no to fire crackers.’ They are aware that the implications of crackers, especially in air and noise pollution. The students have sort of made a human chain to educate people about the ill-effects of bursting firecrackers carrying anti-cracker placards.
Interestingly, these students have pledged to celebrate Diwali with lamps, candles, lights and joy with the friends and neighbours.
On the other hand, the noise caused by the bursting of firecrackers is likely to annoy people and cause health problems especially to the sick and the aged. Studies on environment and health have repeatedly pointed out that firecrackers burst on Diwali spell doom for the community’s health.
Even a small firecracker like the chakri as per studies emits a lot of toxic fumes and more damage from the bigger or popular brands.
Diwali, which marks the return of God Ram to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile, will be celebrated on November 9.