Diwali – A festival of lights or nightmare?

WHAM ! BLAST ! VRROOOM! Deafening noises coupled with sharp sparkling crackers are enough to deafen an infant in the city, not to talk about pet dogs which take shelter beneath the beds and wherever they can. This is Diwali, the so called festival of lights in this metro which is unable to breathe clean, unpolluted air. Different reasons are attributed to the air mixed with obnoxious gases burnt and emanated from the crackers. Several middle-aged persons suffered breathing problems. Lungs and deposits in the nostrils turned black with soot. None can be stopped from playing this deadly game.  Teenagers enjoy as much as their parents who participate in the celebrations.

My German Shepherd quivered and hid itself under my bed refusing to come out.

However, there appeared some relief when the Apex Court of the country issued orders to make Diwali a less polluting one. But this relief was short lived as all hung on implementation of the Court’s orders.

Hoardings were displayed in the city outlining the Court orders. It had to be a ‘green’ Diwali. No obnoxious gases, no loud noise and specified areas to blow up crackers, promising some relief to pets.

Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) were made a party to check blowing up of loud crackers in their colonies.

As the evening descended on the metro, loud thuds were heard from here and there. The frequency increased of the loud blasts. There was no one from the RWAs to check the increasing nuisance. In fact some members of the RWA smiled and disappeared from the scene. There was no police patrol to check that crackers were being burnt at specified areas. Slowly it became free for all. Instructions from the Apex Court were thrown to the winds.

Despite selected ban on selling of crackers, the retailers had already made a killing selling their wares almost unchecked. The police had a gala time, no patrolling in the  colonies and streets. I overheard children in the neighbourhood talking about smokeless Diwali as taught in the class, but that was forgotten with the class and here they were blasting to their heart’s content.

The so-called green Diwali turned out to be a dismal affair.

The after effects of Diwali seemed more pronounced the next morning when the newspapers blared out figures of Air Quality Index (AQI).

The morning after, Anand Vihar was among the areas in Delhi where the air quality index (AQI) was recorded at an alarming 999 the next morning. The AQI around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium touched 999 (the maximum level for the monitors) while the US Embassy in Chanakya Puri  is said to have scored 459, all under the “hazardous” category.

The place I stay is close to Anand Vihar. I had to swallow all the soot for no fault of mine.

The government, both Central and Delhi cut a sorry figure in checking pollution in Delhi on Diwali.

Diwali was a nightmare, truly nightmarish forcing people to inhale fumes harmful for the health.

— By Amit Mittal……

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