Amidst an intense debate following the SC’s verdict on banning the sale and use of polluting firecrackers, there has been increased speculation among citizens over the validity of the judgment that suggests wiping out an industry worth more than Rs. 6000 crores and providing employment for over five lakh people.
Moreover, the difficulty of implementing a blanket ban on the production of crackers, which has been synonymous with the celebration of Diwali for decades, the verdict has been termed unfeasible by the nation, forcing the Government to explore new alternatives.
A week ahead of Diwali, the Centre unveiled a new possibility when the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, announced that “a set of less-polluting ‘green’ firecrackers have been developed by the Indian scientists in CSIR-NEERI.”
.@CSIR_IND develops less polluting firecrackers. For the first time, an Emission Testing Facility established in India for sound and emission testing of crackers
— PIB India (@PIB_India) October 30, 2018
The concept of a ‘green firecracker‘ sounded abysmal to both the producers and consumers, in the beginning, resulting in a stock of jokes being leveled at various public platforms, by drawing comparisons between the new invention and other hilarious oxymoron such as “a healthy pizza” or an “interest free credit card loan.”
But in light of the pollution woes of the country, the idea of “green crackers” was also largely welcome by the nation.
Researchers from two national labs — the Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Tamil Nadu and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in Nagpur — have developed these controversial ‘green firecrackers’. There are three types of firecrackers that have been made – SWAS (Safety Water Release), STAR (Safety Thermite Cracker) and Safal (Safe Minimal Aluminum).
— PIB India (@PIB_India) October 29, 2018
The concept behind their creation involves tweaking the composition of regular firecrackers by replacing the more-polluting aluminum oxides with magnesium oxides. This helps in reducing the particulate matter which is released from exploding these crackers. In addition to that, these eco-friendly firecrackers release water vapor as a ‘dust suppressant’, which could vastly reduce the number of suspended pollutants in the air down using humidity.
They are still far from eco-friendly but have nevertheless been given the tag of ‘green’ for being 25-30 percent LESS polluting than your regular fireworks. These crackers match the performance of conventional crackers in terms of sound and quality.
“The biggest factor is that they would be 25-30% cheaper to manufacture and manufacturers would not have to make any changes in their facilities,” said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
The Green crackers have been demonstrated to the manufacturers and have received positive feedback so far, which is why they samples have been sent for further testing and approval to the licensing authority, Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO).
The chances of them being rolled out in time for Diwali celebrations this year looks highly unlikely. When asked about the tentative time it would take to introduce “green” firecrackers in the market, Harsh Vardhan said, “It depends on the manufacturers now. It will not happen this Diwali but only later.”
But once approved and launched, these firecrackers will be available for use on all festivities and celebrations throughout the year including birthdays, weddings, New Year, etc.
Until the green fireworks hit the markets, the task of prevention falls into the hands of the public to choose alternatives for less polluting fireworks — within permitted emission and decibel levels. Is there an alternative? Abstain from them altogether, or live to break the new laws.