News & Information From Northeast India

This Diwali, Guwahati needs to go ‘eco-friendly’ before it becomes a second Delhi

Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the most famous festivals of the year. As the bright lights illuminate our surroundings, the festival marks a change in the season – a very happy feeling altogether.

While the festivities attract most of the people, the festival is normally overshadowed with a high decibel dose of firecrackers. The ear drums take a beating, while the environment is left with huge amount of pollutants –micro particles, macro particles, smoke, chemicals…

Recently, the Supreme Court decided to have mercy on the lungs of Delhites and imposed a ban on the sale of firecrackers within Delhi-NCR until November 1. The decision started a debate; some came in support of the decision while others protested. If seen from both environment and cultural aspects, the verdict of the apex court is in the right track at a time when Delhi has become the 2nd most polluted city in the world after Beijing in China.

But, the apex court should also try to figure out solution to those traders who already brought a large stock of crackers for sale.

Even if seen from a traditional point of view, it reflects that fireworks during Diwali have never been our tradition. The word “Deepawali” itself reflects the actual meaning – “Deep” meaning Diyas or lamps and “Awali” mean rows. It is believed that when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile as well as defeating Ravana in war, the people of Ayodhya lighted Diyas in a row to welcome him. The concept of fireworks was only introduced later in the medieval period when gunpowder came into existence.

We cannot deliberately overlook the issue as cultural; in fact, the issue concerns our environment. This problem severely compromises the respiratory system of even a normal individual, besides adversely affecting the blood pressure and nervous system.

The problem is not only limited to Delhi. Over the years, cities like Guwahati are also facing a paradigm shift in environment degradation. Guwahati was popular for its “moderate” and pleasant weather but now the temperate has been rising exponentially. The amount of rain the city used to receive earlier has also come down and summers are becoming uncomfortable. While the major reasons behind climate change could be attributed to improper urbanization and increasing number of industries, fireworks during Diwali also play a significant role in degrading the quality of air during this time of the season.

It’s pity because Guwahati was once known for its pleasant weather. Aren’t we witnessing a similar climate change in Shillong as well?

Although the situation of pollution here in the region is not that bad as Delhi, but things are getting worse and before it’s too late, we must begin rectifying the things we could have done for Delhi.

The Vedic culture is known for admiring nature, not playing with the same and harming it. So, can we try to celebrate the festival of lights as our tradition and light up the city with earthen diyas rather than indulging with high decibel firecrackers?

As we embark on a mission for a Swachh Bharat, it is necessary that we understand our responsibilities for the environment. The next morning after Diwali shouldn’t be a testimony to our lacklustre attitude towards our responsibilities when the streets are choked and dumped with remains of explosives.

Probably it would be difficult for many to shun crackers and embrace earthen diyas at one go, but if we care, we have options like eco-friendly firecrackers.

Remember, we can only sustain in this earth if the nature will sustain. The national capital has been facing the consequences of unwise decisions. While it is raging a war against air pollution now, it’s time Guwahati too prepare itself and say no to crackers before it’s too late. Happy Diwali…

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