New Delhi, April 12 (G’nY News Service): Despite the fact that dengue hits the headlines many time over every season, and garners thousands of crores investment for its control, it is perhaps startling that firecrackers kill far more. The Kollam Temple tragedy on 10th April 2016, is a dark day that would not have happened if only we had some stringent policies in place.
The fireworks industry in India is a cause on concern on many counts. The total deaths in India due to fireworks/crackers in the last decade(2005-2014) is 3447 (https://data.gov.in/catalog), much higher than the deadly dengue at 1429(http://www.searo.who.int/entity) for the same period. Setting up of governmental norms regarding using fireworks and crackers is indeed imperative considering the death toll, environmental pollution and unchecked child labour involved.
It is true that fireworks related death is nothing new in India. Statistical data of 10 years confirms 3447 deaths and many more injured across the country due to fireworks related accidents. In the same decade, the death toll from dengue, for which the government and corporates spend crores, doesn’t even reach half. On Sunday April 10, a massive fire from firecrackers already claimed 109 lives and over a hundred injured at Puttingal temple at Paravaur (Kollam District), Kerala (http://indianexpress.com). What is startling is the absence of strict governmental norms passed and implemented regarding using fireworks even after repeated accidents.
Every year during Diwali, the pollution level rises to alarming levels due to widespread use of firecrackers. The metro cities are exposed to extremely hazardous air and noise pollution level during the festival. Usually, toxic fume from cracker worsen the killer particles in the air increase by 5 to 7 times than the safe standards during the festival and deadly chemicals from the crackers remain for few days in the air (http://www.ibnlive.com). In one of the worst cases,PM10 was recorded as high as 2,308 microgram per cubic meter (mpcm) while the prescribed standard is 100mpcm and PM2.5 for which the prescribed standard is 60mpcm, also touched an alarming high at 619mpcm in parts of Delhi in 2015 (http://www.hindustantimes.com). More than 5.5 million people worldwide die every year due to air pollution (http://www.bbc.com).
Firecrackers industry illegally employs children where they work in hazardous conditions. Consumers in India tend to buy fireworks, especially the cheaper ones, most of which are made by the home-based units that employ children (http://www.mapsofindia.com). This has caught the attention of child welfare associations, activists and other international bodies that fight child labour.
In US, manufacturing and use of large display fireworks requires official permission while consumer fireworks usually smaller are regulated by other agencies. UK has a policy on use of firecrackers (http://www.legislation.gov.uk) with strict regulations on sellers, buyers’ age and permissible time limits for use.
While a complete ban may not be viable considering trade and revenue factor, cultural meaning, a strict regulation is necessary in India to curb death, pollution and ensure child safety.