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Cracker Ban: Reality or Hoax

Historically, Diwali is one of the most awaited festivals of the year. It brings in an eerie of joy for not only Hindus but also becomes a reason for celebration among other religions as well. Diwali marks the celebration for Vishnu's bravery in rescuing Lakshmi, Goddess Lakshmi's birthday, the return of the Pandavas, the victory of Rama, the coronation of Vikramaditya and so many more reasons amongst the Sikhs and Jains. Henceforth, Diwali brings in the Festival of Lights to eradicate all the darkness within and joyously celebrate the beginning of a bright future ahead.

Unfortunately, the Festival of Lights has often been a source of misconception and is recognized as a festival full of fireworks and crackers. Undoubtedly, fireworks spark joy, make one delighted and are a part of the celebration for many but according to the proverb, "Excess of anything is injurious",  even excess of these fireworks are injurious not only to the human health but also to the environment. 

Detrimental Effects of Fireworks
Despite being aware of the ill effects of crackers and how it accelerates global warming, we are reluctant in avoiding to use them. Apart from impacting the environment and human health, it also has a greater impact on the animals physically and psychologically. The nuisances created by fireworks towards the environment make animals the direct as well as indirect victims of the pollution caused by these firecrackers.

They also cause direct injuries or burns to these animals which are often left untreated. Many cases have emerged where stray animals such as dogs, cats, or birds get physically wounded or injured due to these crackers. Children create a nuisance by tying crackers to the tails of these stray animals, it seems fun for the children but the mute animals are the ones who suffer immensely.

Psychologically, animals have a wider range of hearing as compared to humans therefore, it becomes difficult for animals to escape the noise of these crackers. The continuous bombardment of these noises ends up traumatizing animals for life. They become oversensitive to any such stimulus and it puts them under constant stress and fear.

It creates a feeling of sudden shock and can lead to death. Stray animals also tend to chew onto anything they find on the streets. Often, these crackers are burst and left on the street to be cleaned the next day. During the duration between lighting or burning and cleaning of the crackers, animals might chew onto these toxic substances which may include gun powder and other chemicals causing long-term health complications or even death.

Many people have become aware of the ill effects of crackers, but what about the ones who haven't?
As per the case, Arjun Gopal v Union of India, the appellant was concerned about the health of his children caused by the degrading air quality and air pollution in metropolitan cities. He claimed that children are more susceptible to air pollutants which may affect them and cause coughing, bronchitis, asthma, and other such ailments. He proceeded to accept that there are other ways in which pollution is increasing but emphasized the fact that due to indiscriminate use of crackers during Diwali the pollution rate reaches to poor or even severe sometimes.

Bursting these crackers increases chemical composition in the air thereof bringing situations of an 'emergency.' The appellant also seeks measures for pollution caused by seasonal crop burning, indiscriminate dumping of pollutants, and banning of crackers which cause harm to the environment.

Consumer Protection Act, 2019
Every year we hear the government bring into effect a cracker ban in parts of India but it is to no avail. People resent the feeling of the government trying to interfere in their celebrations and retaliate by lighting more crackers. If these crackers malfunction, which is often the case or handled with negligence, they can cause injuries and damage to individuals. During the festive season, the emergency rooms in the hospitals are filled with people injured through these fireworks.

They often report malfunctioned crackers yet the government doesn't seem to control its manufacturing and sales. The consumers of these crackers also fail to file a complaint to the consumer forum under Consumer Protection Act,2019.

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides for the protection of the interest of consumers and for the said purpose to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers dispute and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The act states that:
The goods, which are hazardous to life and safety when used are being offered for sale to the public.

Concerning this, crackers are stated to be hazardous to life and are advised to be used carefully under adult supervision only. These crackers cause air pollution hazards and are often accompanied by malfunctioned crackers which no one reports about or tries to amend.

Currently, the Calcutta High Court has ordered a complete ban on the usage and sale of all kinds of firecrackers including the green crackers (which are eco-friendly) throughout the state of West Bengal during the Diwali festival and the festivals thereof.  The court stated that bursting such crackers violates Article 21 which guarantees the right to health to every citizen according to the constitution of India.

In regards to the case being discussed,i.e., Arjun Gopal v Union of India, it was highlighted that as the winters begin, the air quality automatically starts to degrade, and with the onset of festivals and marriages during the winters, the pollution is already at a poor stage. The court also recognized and considered Article 48A of the Constitution of India which recognizes the duty of the state to ensure a healthy environment as well as Article 51A(G) of the Constitution which shows the duty of citizens to ensure a healthy environment.

They also emphasized Article 25 which states that bursting crackers isn't part of religious practices. The Government has also tried to suspend licenses permitting the sale and manufacturing of fireworks. 

Here the main question is, what about the people whose livelihood is dependent on manufacturing and sale of these crackers?
In the case cited above, it was argued that the revenue generated from the manufacturing and sale of fireworks is around Rs 8000 crores per annum and increases every year. This industry employs 5 lakh plus families and thus by imposing such a ban, the sustainability of such families is infringed as well as economic growth is restrained. To proceed with a balanced approach, the government also suggests examining the socio-economic effects of the ban and present forward a proper study on factors affecting the environment. Ultimately, the right to carry on business guaranteed under Article 19(1)(G) of the Constitution is getting infringed.

The study also promotes focusing on alternatives to such fireworks such as green crackers. It becomes essential to mention that there have been lots of resources put together in the production of firecrackers that don't contain harmful chemicals as such, therefore, do not cause air pollution.

Here the important aspect is how will the government assure the sale and manufacture of only green crackers? How will the government differentiate between the crackers burnt on streets from green crackers to normal crackers? 

Conclusively, in the case Arjun Gopal v Union of India, the court accepted the fact that burning such crackers during Diwali was not the sole reason behind air pollution but it is an added factor that comprises a larger section of the pollution caused. Every year different sectors of the government try to spread awareness in the general public regarding the ill effects of these crackers but to no avail for a majority of the population.

Burning firecrackers is fun but it is just for brief momentary happiness. The damage to the environment, the pollution, and the harm caused are permanent. Hence, in the long run, one must look out to preserve the environment and look beyond the small aspects of life and focus on the sustainability of the environment.

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