As the festival of lights, Diwali, approaches, there is a concerted effort to mitigate the impact of celebrations on air quality. In the wake of worsening Air Quality Index (AQI), the Delhi government has taken a strict stance by banning all firecrackers, including the so-called green crackers. However, in states like Assam, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and West Bengal, green firecrackers have been permitted on the premise that they are less harmful to the environment.
The introduction of “eco-friendly” crackers, promoted as green crackers, dates back to 2018 when the Supreme Court imposed a ban on traditional crackers, urging the use of alternatives that are less polluting and produce 30% less noise. Green crackers, according to the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), are designed with a reduced shell size, no ash, and minimal use of raw materials and additives, such as dust suppressants, to specifically reduce emissions of Particulate Matter (PM).
However, the question remains: How eco-friendly are these green crackers? While they claim to use zero chemical substances like potassium nitrate, barium nitrate, sulfur, lithium, and aluminum, which supposedly result in 30% fewer emissions, recent reports have cast doubt on their “green authenticity.” In a recent seizure of over 2,311 kg of firecrackers in Delhi, not a single kilogram was found to be genuinely green.
Identifying genuine green crackers can be challenging, but there are methods to verify their authenticity. Look for CSIR-NEERI stamps or QR codes on the packaging, as these indicate that the crackers meet certain environmental standards. Additionally, check the packaging for specifications on the chemical substances used in the manufacturing process.
Comparing conventional and green crackers, the absence of barium nitrate in green crackers is highlighted as a positive aspect, as barium nitrate is known to contribute significantly to air and noise pollution. Instead, green crackers utilize substances like potassium nitrate, which are deemed less polluting. These crackers also contain aluminum, lead, and carbon, effectively reducing the emission of harmful gases during combustion. To ensure the authenticity of the green crackers and their optimal environmental impact, it is advisable to purchase them from authorized sellers and exercise caution in handling and lighting them.
As communities strive to strike a balance between celebrating traditions and protecting the environment, the debate over the effectiveness and authenticity of green crackers continues. Diwali, a festival of joy and lights, prompts a collective effort to adopt practices that uphold both cultural festivities and environmental responsibility.