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Lake polluted after Ganesh Chaturthi. Wikimedia Commons

October 07, 2016: Indian festivals have always been an integral part of our culture. They help us stay connected to our tradition. Every year, festivals like Diwali, Holi, etc. are celebrated with sumptuousness. People spend thousands of rupees on crackers, colours and lights to celebrate the festival of spreading light and leaving the dark behind but what they also do is, leave behind is a massive pile of garbage!

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According to a report by Delhi Government, levels of pollutants like Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen dioxide(NO2) are rising at an alarming rate. Last year, Vikrant Tongad, an environmentalist working with the Delhi-based Social Action for Forest and Environment told IANS, “the rise in pollution levels after Diwali has been going up three-to-four times the normal levels. But it’s alarming to see the rise even before Diwali.”

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After Diwali, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), an agency under Ministry of Earth Sciences, declared the air quality in the capital “severe”, a category used to describe the highest level of pollution. The next day is not any better. The remains of all the crackers are strewn across the parks and streets.

The story is same during other festivals as well. The colours used to play Holi are made from substances like acids, mica, glass powder and alkalis which are responsible for skin complications and allergies. These chemicals get absorbed into the soil. Also, water containing these chemicals cannot be treated in a conventional way.

During Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi, around 100,000 idols are immersed in the water bodies resulting in the release of substances like Plaster of Paris (PoP), lead, etc. Also, people leave behind flowers, food, etc. on the immersing site. The TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) in increased by 100%and the heavy metal content is increased by 200 to 300%.

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During Eid, many people perform the sacrifice ritual at communal places which are left unclean. Also, the increase in affordability has increased the amount of food wasted during these festivals.

Through the past decade, government and NGO’s have been trying to raise awareness among people through campaigns and advertisements but every year the level of pollution during these festivals breaks the previous records. It seems like Festival and trash have become synonymous.

Everyone knows the solution but for some reason refuse to act upon them. Well, if this continues, soon there will be a time where we will not be able to move out of their houses without wearing a pollution mask.

by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53


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