UPPCB’s advisory goes for a toss as Lucknowites burst firecrackers worth over ₹50 cr - Hindustan Times

UPPCB’s advisory goes for a toss as Lucknowites burst firecrackers worth over 50 cr

Nov 14, 2023 06:19 PM IST

The aftermath of the revelry painted a grim picture as a blanket of smoke and haze covered parts of Lucknow.

LUCKNOW Despite the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board’s (UPPCB) advisory urging residents to curb firecracker celebrations for a pollution-free Diwali, Lucknow witnessed a spectacular display of festivities on Sunday that left the guidelines in the dust.

Representational photo (HT Photo)
Representational photo (HT Photo)

The Lucknow Cracker Traders Association announced that the city surpassed the staggering 50 crore mark in firecracker sales, marking a remarkable 20% increase from the previous year. Mahesh Gupta, the association’s president, remarked, “This year’s celebration has exceeded all expectations, reflecting a significant surge in enthusiasm compared to last year.”

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Before the Festival of Lights, the UPPCB had issued directives, emphasising the sale of firecrackers without Barium salts and limiting sound levels to 125 dB(AI) or 145 dB(C) pk. The recommended time for bursting crackers was set between 8 pm and 10 pm on the festive night. This advisory was issued in response to the Supreme Court’s call for pollution control measures.

However, the fervour of Diwali not only erased the relief brought by pre-Diwali rain but also witnessed firecrackers lighting up the skies well past the designated hours. Satish Chandra Mishra, the association’s general secretary, said, “It seems people haven’t just celebrated Diwali; they’ve stockpiled for the Cricket World Cup too. We anticipate a further boost in business during the upcoming New Year celebrations.”

Consequently, a day after the Diwali revelry, parts of Lucknow were covered in a blanket of smoke and haze. The air quality in many areas of the city remained poor even on Tuesday.

Municipal commissioner Inderjeet Singh said, “The roads of the city had to be cleaned by the Lucknow Municipal Corporation with extra effort, as they had to lift around 100 tonnes of additional litter. In addition to daily household waste, they had to clean and collect boxes of sweets, remnants of crackers, edibles, beverage bottles, etc.”

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality in Lucknow’s Lalbagh was recorded at 292, 248 near Kendriya Vidyalaya, and 219 at the Talkatora District Industries Centre on Monday, categorizing it as poor quality.

Environmental expert VK Joshi noted, “Firecrackers are made from harmful chemical compounds like sulphur, cadmium, mercury, and lead, which release toxic fumes upon burning. That’s why the Supreme Court directed a limited period for burning them, but the spirit of the festival seems to override the court’s orders. We are aware that the fumes from crackers can cause dense smog, making it difficult to breathe.”

Rajkamal Srivastava, a Science activist and former convenor of the District Science Club, said, “The increase in cracker sales ensured that the decline in air pollution due to the rains that occurred the day before Diwali was negated. The level of air pollution increased post-Diwali celebrations, despite numerous campaigns against the use of crackers and for environmental conservation.”

Dr CM Nautiyal, former environmental scientist, said, “During the winter months, everyone knows that air pollution levels can be high. Cold air is denser and moves slower than warm air, trapping pollution and not whisking it away. Authorities should also address building dust, vehicular pollution, dry-cold weather, stubble burning, and burning crop residues during the winter season.”

President Mahesh Gupta said, “This year, we have crossed the 50 crore mark, reflecting a 20% increase compared to the previous year.” General secretary Saitsh Chandra Mishra added, “People haven’t just burst crackers during Diwali; it seems they’ve stored them for the World Cup too. Some credit for the increased sales should also go to the Cricket World Cup in India this year. We hope the business will flourish during the New Year celebrations as well.”

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    Anupam Srivastava is a Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, Lucknow. Has produced exclusive stories in medical, civil aviation, civic, political and other issues for over 20 years.

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