Monday October 23, 2017
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Bengal firecracker industry won’t have a blast this Diwali

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By Roshni Chakrabarty and Arnab Mitra

Kolkata/New Delhi: Workers from the famed Bengal firecracker industry are facing a crisis due to the decision of the East Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) to uphold a move by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) on Thursday to cap the noise level limit at 90 decibels for Diwali, even though a limit of 125 decibels is in effect in the rest of the country.

Recently, the Supreme Court refused a blanket ban on firecrackers, stating that a ban was not the proper measure to solve the pollution issue. It had, instead, directed the Centre and the state governments to give wide publicity to the ill effects of cracker bursting, including sound and air pollution.

Legal assistant Ujjal Barua said, “The NGT East Zone Bench has commended the state government on this step. They said that if the limit is increased to 125, then the state, which has an extreme pollution level would undergo a huge damage in these 3-4 days.

The workers from Champahati and Nungi, two major firecracker industries in India, said that the decision puts them at a loss compared to the rest of the country. The firecracker producers from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, another major firecracker industry in India, do not face any such restriction and can freely produce crackers catering to the nationwide 125 decibel sound limit.

China leads the world’s firecracker production at 90% and faces no restriction on an international level as well, thus supplying firecrackers to bigger events such as T20 tournaments or award ceremonies. India, on the other hand, claims 10% of the world market, of which, the two Bengal firecracker industries hold a 4-5% stake.

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WBPCB officials cited the extreme pollution levels in Bengal and stated that bursting firecrackers here might tilt the environmental balance. However, the major flaw in this decision lies in the fact that the officials are barely active during the rest of the year when the state experiences a lot of sound pollution from a party’s promotion on loudspeakers, any protest or movement, club events, or idol immersions during Durga Puja.

Would the bursting of sound crackers like shells, chocolate bombs, kaliphotka and dodoma during these 2-4 days of Diwali period really cause any grave harm to the state which it doesn’t experience otherwise? When these firework products are available over the entire national market, what is the point in restricting the sale in just one state?

High quality firecrackers from Champahati and Nungi are in demand in the all-India market for Diwali and Chhat puja. The WBPCB ruling has hampered this side of the business as well as the sound crackers form a large portion of the firecracker industry. The Sivakasi fireworks industry would be able to cater to the all-India market demand while the Bengal firework industries run at a loss.

Acting secretary of Champahati Firecracker Samity, Sankar Mondal said, “A ban really doesn’t prevent people from bursting the kind of crackers they want to. Every year you can hear so called ‘illegal’ crackers being burst. If recent statistics are seen, high sound level crackers are actually on the rise. If the customers don’t get what they want from Bengal, they just resort to getting them from elsewhere, such as from Bihar or Munger.”

Shankar Mondal
Shankar Mondal

While Mondal agreed with the fact that pollution in Bengal has been on the rise, he also added that the factories don’t halt production just because of such bans. “Most of these kinds of products end up in the black market at higher prices.”

Speaking on the people arrested almost every year for bursting high sound level crackers, Mondal says, “Nothing comes out of it, as most of the time, they are let free very soon.”

Sonarpur citizen Dr Kalipada Ghosh said that crackers start bursting in the neighbourhood even before Kali Puja or Diwali and the ban won’t change anything. “The local boys create even more powerful fireworks than chocolate bombs.”

“While the police don’t really concern themselves with bigger crimes such as stolen automobiles or other property, it is rather funny to think they would go to investigate whether someone is bursting a chocolate bomb or kaliphotka,” Ghosh added.

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Central government employee Manoj Shaw lives with his father, a retired army personnel in poor health. For him, the bigger issue lay in the loudspeakers which blare Bollywood songs till late at night.

They welcomed the 90-decibel limit but believe that the government should definitely look into the plight of the firecracker workers whose livelihood completely depends on the cracker industry. “A middle ground has to be achieved where the common people as well the workers are not at a loss.”

The Workers Union representatives said that the rise in prices of raw materials such as ash, sand and gunpowder has made business difficult as sales would fall if the product prices are raised accordingly.

The Champahati railway station is connected to the firecracker market itself by roads which are in an extremely poor condition. MP Sugata Basu has been notified of the issue but no step has been taken. The lack of proper administration and policing in the area discourages customers who might face harassment and robbery issues.

The workers state that the administration only creates a nuisance in the area. The police allegedly pay a visit for a couple of days each week and confiscates the ‘illegal’ items, but doesn’t pay attention to the other issues in the area.

The state government hasn’t come up with any aid or scheme to compensate for this problem. Workers have started to move to other businesses and, if this situation continues, within 2-3 years, the art of cracker making would soon meet the same fate as several other art forms.

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A single ban will not solve the pollution issue that the nation or the states face. Proper measures need to be taken in the form of continuous campaigning and awareness programmes on the evils of pollution. The government must take care of all sides and reach a balanced decision which would keep the environment, the workers and the customers happy.

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Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

Despite the much talked about cracker-ban, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality.

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While the ban on crackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution. (Representative image) Pixabay

New Delhi, October 20, 2017: The Supreme Court had on October 9 banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali in order to counter the pollution, deteriorating air quality and smog-like conditions that have come to be associated with the festival in recent times.

While a radical change was not expected following the ban on firecrackers, a humble and promising beginning could be witnessed on Diwali with majority areas in Delhi reporting much lesser noise and smoke till 6 PM, compared to previous years.

However, as the festive spirit picked up from 7 PM onwards, the hopes for a pollution-free Diwali got lost behind the growing echo of the crackers.

Pollution Levels on Diwali

Despite the much talked about the ban on firecrackers, pollution monitoring stations placed the capital in the ‘red zone’, indicating ‘very poor’ air quality. According to the stats available, on Diwali day around 7 pm, online indicators showed a rising trend in the volume of cancer-causing ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10 that are capable of entering the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream.

PM2.5 and PM10 are the extremely fine particulate matter with the digits representing their diameter in micrometers. They are a major component of air pollutants that threaten both, our health and the environment at large.

ALSO READ 10 Quick Facts About Delhi Pollution Problem

However, data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) suggested that the air quality in Delhi on Diwali was better than last year.

On Thursday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was 319 which placed the city in the ‘very poor’ category. However, the AQI value on Diwali last year was 431 and the city was placed in the ‘severe’ category.

According to data from SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), the 24-hour rolling average at around 11 PM was revealed as 154 and 256 micrograms per cubic meter for PM2.5 and PM10 respectively.

According to SAFAR data, pollution levels were expected to soar between 11 PM and 3 AM.

Pollution Levels in the Morning after Diwali

As the night progressed, PM2.5 levels recorded a sharp rise in multiple areas in and around Delhi, with 15 times increase in areas like India Gate

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM2.5 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 911 microns (Normal level – 60 microns)

RK Puram – 776 microns (13 times more than usual)

Ashoka Vihar – 820 microns (14 times more than normal)

Anand Vihar – 617 microns (10 times more than normal)

A sharp rise was observed in the PM10 levels in the early hours of the morning after Diwali which suggest hazardous pollution levels in Delhi.

As per data from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), PM10 levels at 6 AM in,

India Gate – 985 microns

RK Puram – 1083 (11 times more than usual)

Anand Vihar – 2402 microns (24 times more than normal. Normal level is considered around 100 microns)

While the ban on firecrackers imposed by the Supreme Court aimed to reduce pollution levels in Delhi, figures from pollution monitoring system paint an unhealthy picture with amplified levels of air pollution.

Official figures from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are yet to be announced today. However, judging from the data available, it won’t be wrong to say that pollution levels in Delhi have increased post-Diwali.

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Hairstyles to Get the Chic look for Diwali Eve

Enhance your traditional attire with these oh-so-easy hairstyles and look the most glamorous among your gang for Diwali Eve tonight

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Hairstyles to rock the Diwali Eve. Pixabay.
  • Diwali has got you excited since days and undoubtedly you would want to look your best today.
  • We have got some relief for you by presenting the trending hairstyles that you can give a try today to rock the Diwali eve with that chic look on your traditional attire.

Beachy Wave Hairstyle

Universally admired by red carpet celebrities and the daily beauty lovers alike. Getting those perfectly-loose curls is oh-so-simple. They take less than 10 minutes. Just use air dryer, curling wand, and your magical fingers to give you that boho chic look. This kind of hairstyles gives a bounce on your hair, making it suitable for a festive season like Diwali.

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Beachy Hairstyle a must try on the Diwali day. Wikimedia.

Side Fishtail Braid

This superficial, intricate-looking will definitely set your look intimidating for Diwali Eve. Braiding being the easiest hairstyle to master. This requires no hot tools or hair products, just keep trying the ends of the hair into braids by dividing into two sections. Throw out your hair open or tied with the braid on the side to enhance your hairstyle.

Hairstyles
Side Fish Tail Braid will get you boarded with the ethnic look. Wikimedia.

You may also try out the Messy Fish Tail Braid hairstyle which is suitable if you have short hair.

Hairstyles
Try this messy fishtail braid for short hair. Pixabay.

ALSO READ: Diwali 2017: 5 Fun things You can do this Diwali Instead of Bursting Crackers

Rose Braided Bun

Elegant & romantic, rose-bud, flower braid bun hairstyles is suitable for medium or long hair. Part your hairs from the center into three sections and separate a small portion of your hair from near your hairline. Create the braids normally and wrap it in a form of a beautiful flower in the center.You may also try the similar wrap around crown braid which will let you glow in the crowd on Diwali day.

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Rose Braided hairdo is surely gonna make you feel glamorous. Pixabay.

Low Pony Tail

No matter your hair kind or face shape, this hairstyle is surprisingly easy to master the look for any festive occasion. Just Slip your hair into a chic low pony and you’re done for the night. You may do a sharp low side-part to get that ethnic look hairstyle with your traditional attire. Showcase your traditional jhumkas over this low ponytail look.

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Low Pony Tail Look for Diwali Night. Pixabay.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Diwali 2017: 5 Fun things You can do this Diwali Instead of Bursting Crackers

How to celebrate Cracker -free Diwali? Here are 5 wonderful ways to make your Diwali joyful this year.

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Diwali 2017
Diwali 2017: Celebrate Cracker-free Diwali this year.
  • No crackers this Diwali? No problem.There are other ways to celebrate Diwali 2017 with the same excitement and joy.
  • The ban on crackers this year has given us a chance to celebrate Diwali 2017 in many other interesting ways with Family and friends.

There can so So much more than bursting crackers on Diwali. Here are 5 ways to enjoy Cracker-free Diwali 2017 

1.Prepare a Diwali Feast: Preparing Delicious Diwali Dishes and Sweets can be a good idea to enjoy Diwali this year. Show off your cooking skills and treat your family with mouthwatering food. Good food can add joy to any celebration, it is tried and tested formula to enjoy and bring smiles on the face of family and friends.

Phirni Diwali Dishes
Preparing Delicious and Sweets can be a good idea to enjoy Diwali this year. Wikimedia

2. Go Green: Some gardening skills can add to your joy this Diwali. Plant a sapling in your home and instead of giving any other gifts to your loved ones, gift a plant to them. This will not only add to the uniqueness of the gift but will encourage a pollution-free Diwali this year.

Also Read: Diwali 2017: Significance of the Diwali, Celebrations & Rituals, Date & Diwali Recipes

3. Try out the old tradition of Playing Cards on Diwali 2017: Playing Taash (cards) can be fun this Diwali with family and friends.Teen Patti is the most popular card game played on the festival of Diwali. You can also play monopoly if you are not sure of winning with cards.

4.Karaoke or Dance Party: Music is the best way to enjoy on every occasion. You can play Antakshari with your family or can throw a dance party on Diwali 2017. A karaoke night this Diwali can add your joy for sure.

5.Spread Happiness: Instead of spending money on crackers, help the underprivileged children in your neighborhood by buying them new clothes, sweets and Diyas. This year control pollution and spread happiness to truly enjoy the festival of lights.

-prepared by Pragya Mittal |Twitter @PragyaMittal05