Firecrackers have long been termed as the social evil of Diwali celebrations. Contributing to air and noise pollution, promoting child labour while at the same time putting the lives of both humans and animals at risk, the ban on firecrackers is something that has long been called for.
Every year the festival of lights that is characterized by rampant burning of firecrackers in spite of numerous awareness campaigns causes widespread pollution, bringing the air quality of Indian cities to hazardous levels.
The situation grew so worse that the Supreme Court in 2018 banned conventional firecrackers that have high emission levels and allowed only those that conform to permissible smoke and noise levels.
With that in mind, this Diwali saw the launch of a new brand of crackers in the market. The “Green Crackers” as they are called, are dubbed to be an environmentally friendlier version of crackers, projected to emit 30 % fewer emissions as compared to the conventional crackers.
Developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), green crackers were introduced to deal with the menace of pollution caused by conventional firecrackers. These were also launched to help the firecracker industry, which suffered huge losses from the firecracker ban last year.
What Are Green Crackers?
'Green' crackers have a small shell size compared to traditional crackers. They are produced using less harmful raw materials and have additives which reduce emissions by suppressing dust. This is done by the crackers releasing water vapour on bursting, which does not allow the dust particles to rise.
They don't contain banned chemicals such as lithium, arsenic, barium and lead. These chemicals have been linked to respiratory diseases and even cancer. They are called Safe Water Releaser (SWAS), Safe Thermite Cracker (STAR) and Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL) crackers.
These crackers can be identified via a green logo as well as a Quick Response (QR) coding system, which has been developed for differentiation of green crackers from conventional crackers.
Green Crackers are available in multiple varieties such as sound-emitting crackers, flowerpots, pencils, chakkar and sparklers.
Are Green Crackers Actually Less Polluting?
Since these crackers have only been launched this year, the jury is still out on whether they are actually less polluting or not.
It has been argued that the claim that green crackers emit 30% less pollution had been done based on laboratory testing conditions, which vary greatly from the real world conditions.
Also, due to the limited supply of green crackers, it is difficult to measure their impact on pollution this Diwali, as any reduction in smoke levels cannot entirely be attributable to the improvements in crackers themselves.
The Problem With Green Crackers
While the initiative and the entry of green crackers into the market place is surely a step in the right direction, the move has met with some teething problems.
There have been issues with the supply of the green crackers at various markets, as suppliers were only issued licenses to produce the products in May. This did not give them enough time to manufacture and supply green crackers across the country.
Another issue that came to light was the limited varieties of green crackers on offer. As compared to conventional crackers, the types of green crackers available readily were vastly less, disheartening consumers who wished to buy the same.
Irrespective of the viability of green crackers, this Diwali the government surely showed signs that it was taking a step in the right direction. About 530 emissions testing certificates were issued to fireworks manufactures for new and improved formulations meeting the stipulated guidelines of green crackers, with as many as 165 firecracker manufacturers being roped in.
With this, it finally seems that all stakeholders are consciously moving towards a Green Diwali