From a naïf, pious, ethereal , unworldly festival celebrating the victory of Ram over evil Diwali has become a noisy , disease, scalds, burns, hurts inflicting, and hearing impairment festival.
Most colonies in the Capital are already borderline cases because of the din caused by vehicular traffic, and an increase of 20 to 30 dB on Diwali pose a real threat to eardrums. The high levels of noise due to fire—crackers, accompanied by smoke, leads to eye ailments, head aches and nervous problems. The most vulnerable on this day are children, mentally disabled and old people.
Ambient noise standards for a residential area are 55 dBs during the day and 45 dBs during the night. However, on Diwali nights the noise level can go unto 150 dBs. Hearing loss – temporary or permanent is a serious problem but then there are injuries also on Diwali, nearly 100,000 people are injured or disfigured on Diwali and many of them loose their sight. There are fires on Diwali taking lives or injuring hundreds of people. The scenario is grim.
Noise levels on Diwali can cause both pathological and/or psychological disorders. Pathological effects can result from a particular noise frequency that can cause vibrations/ resonance in the body. Psychological disorders range from different phobias like becoming introvert and unable to concentrate on studies or other activities.
Firecrackers are a danger to all animals, both physically and psychologically. Most animals show fear when exposed to the sight or smell of crackers. While house pets quiver and retreat beneath beds, lose their appetite, become snappy and lose weight from stress during this frightening time, some have been known to bolt in panic, jumping through glass windows to escape the explosions. With ears far more sensitive than our own, animals are also vulnerable to permanent ear damage from explosive noises. Older animals are worse affected. The number of lost, traumatized and injured goes up sharply during this period.
Last two years Diwali Enforcement Brigade of Vatavaran surveyed to check if the laws and CPCB guidelines were followed.
- In 2008 outside Chikitsa hospital in Saket, the people from the neighborhood were lighting high decibel crackers within 50 meters of the hospital. In 2009 there was a little less noise but more of smoke. For a few years law enforcement agencies were alert thus cracker bursting after the prescribed period was tolerable but 2015-16 Diwali turned out to be the worse.
- In 2015-16, high decibel noise creating crackers were more popular amongst the middle-aged citizens in many residential colonies, the adults were found lighting crackers in the middle of the main roads, grass and under trees. Preferred crackers were Chakris on the grass, anars under the trees and train bombs on roads to follow the moving vehicles.
- In 2015-16, shops in medium to big markets had licenses but most of them did not comply with the rules like (a) keeping the sand bags (b) keeping buckets of water (c) selling crackers not made by children and (d) selling crackers, which did not produce sound above 125dB. In Alaknanda market, all the crackers sold were from Punjab probably made by children and producing sounds much above 125 dB. There were no crackers from Sivakasi at all in the market. In Hauz Khas and Kalkaji, market, there was a mixture of crackers- some were complying with the CPCB guidelines while some were not. In RK Puram market, no shop had sandbags or water or CPCB guidelines. Shops in residential colonies had not displayed the license, if they had the licenses; the shopkeepers had them in their pockets. In Asian Games Village, the shopkeeper said that he was not even aware that a license was needed. No shop in the rural- urban villages had any licenses. In Tughlaqabad though the police was on duty, the shops were running without licenses.
In 2009, CPCB has allocated a team of 60 people to monitor decibel levels, air pollution, volatile organic compounds in the air and sources of pollution and, Vatavaran’s 200 persons’ work force had multiple missions; were also on duty to revive the lost spirit of Diwali, survey the available crackers, help, guide people, examine the shops selling the crackers and where to report.
|Highest Noise level at a Day time||Highest Noise level at Night||Average Noise level during Diwali|
|Old Rajinder Nagar||45-55 dBs
|60- 80 dBs||60- 80 dBs|| 2008 2009
100 90 dBs
|(too many vehicles in too narrow roads)|
|Darya Gunj||“||75 –85 dBs||60- 80 dBs||100 90 dBs|
|(Narrow Lane, Heavy traffic)|
|Vasant Kunj||“||60- 65 dBs||80-85 dBs||85 80 dBs|
|Green Park||“||70-90 dBs||70-90 dBs||90 80 dBs|
|(Printing Machines and Generators)|
65 – 75 dBs
100 90 dBs
|(Industries set in houses)|
|Palika Bazaar||55-65 dBs
|80 – 100 dBs
(Blaring Music and Echo)
|L.N.J.P.Hospital||44 – 50 dBs
|68 – 72 dBs||60 – 70 dBs||85 – 80 dBs|
|(Lack of green cover)|
In 2006, a year long study by the Centre for Research and Fitness examined the respiratory health of 510 people. It found that during Diwali 54.5% developed cough, wheezing and breathlessness. The air had dangerously high levels of NO (over 3ppm-decreasing lung function); So2 (over 6ppm- constricting bronchi); CO (causing shortness of breath and chest pain because, hemoglobin which carries oxygen to various parts of the body, has 200 times greater affinity to CO; and SPM (crackers smoke is richer in SPM as metals like cadmium, lithium, copper and aluminum are added to produce colorful sparks. The pollutants especially free oxygen radicals – damage cellular function in lungs).
Duties of Diwali Enforcement Brigade of Vatavaran
- Help people Choose the crackers they use
- In 2008, it was ejecting, Big Bombs, and Garland Crackers while in 2009 it was primarily Hawaii’s and Automatic Rockets. .
- Reduce the number of Cake Bombs and Sparklers.
- Rejoice with Chakris by lighting them one at a time in an open concrete area,
- Select Phooljharis with sticks at least 6 to 8 inches long and Anars that do not have Potassium Chlorate.
- Help people decide the proper clothing
- While lighting crackers wear cotton or other fire resistant clothing.
- Do not wear nylon clothes or loose fitting clothes.
- Temporary fire retardation can be obtained by soaking clothes in solutions of such chemicals as borax, boric acid, di-ammonium phosphate and ammonium soleplate.
- Help people know
- The bombs and crackers have carbon rich gun powder, and sparklers have chemicals like Sulphur, Lead, and Nitrates of Potassium, Sodium, Strontium, Copper, Barium etc.
- Toxic gases like release of high levels of Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), and Oxides of Nitrogen are released on Diwali night causing ailments like breathlessness, asthma, headaches, chest congestion, and cough, irritation in the eyes, reduced visibility, and slow responses.
- Public awareness related to noise
- That the violation of laws related to noise pollution, is a punishable offence under Criminal Procedure Code of India.
- In India 50 lakh, people suffer from noise induced hearing loss and firecrackers are the major cause. Pathological disorders like temporary or permanent loss of hearing, loss of appetite, irritability, high blood pressure and psychological disorders like phobias, loss of concentration, stressfulness, disorientation, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, aggressive behavior etc.
- Pets must not be exposed to high levels of noise during Diwali night
- 5. Ensure the shops selling crackers have
- A license duly signed by the Area Police Commissioner, prominently displayed along with the conditions for selling crackers as laid down by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Government of India.
- Ensure that the shop is on ground level, does not sell any thing else, has an area between 9 to 25 sq. meters, has sandbags, fire extinguishers, buckets of water, and is not encroaching the road.
- It sells bombs, crackers and sparklers which comply with the standards laid down by the Department of Explosives and Environment Protection Act.
- In Delhi only1373 shopkeepers to sell crackers. Shops that sell crackers should be on a nine metric wide road with all fire-safety equipment in the place. Shop should be on the ground floor. The area of the shop should also be between nine and 25 square meters. No other trade will be allowed from the shop. The power owner must keep proper fire-safety equipment in the shop to prevent disaster. A board with sign ‘no smoking’ should be put up and an adequate number of extinguishers, sand bags and buckets should be placed in the shop. The electrical wiring in the shop should also be fixed and effectively sealed or conducted. Crackers of a prescribed noise level should also be sold. They should not be just out on the pavement. No loose sale of crackers is permitted. Children should not be employed. They should also be within in the authorized quantity and proper records should be maintained.
- Report to the local police
- If the shopkeepers are not following points 4,5 and 6
- If people are bursting crackers above the prescribed noise level or and after the stipulated time of 6 PM to 10 PM.
- Pets exposed to high levels of noise during Diwali night
|S no.||Name||Noise level
|1.||Rocket:||136 dB||Yes||Kalahari||Rs. 15 for 10||X|
|3.||Parachute||136 dB||Yes||Kalahari||Rs.25O for l0||X|
|4.||Green Bomb||162 dB||Not declared||Kalahari||Re. 1 each.||X|
|5.||Foil Bomb:||162 dB||Not declared||Kalahari||Rs. 2 each||X|
|6.||Flower pot:||157 dB||Not declared||Coronation||Rs. 20 for 7||X|
|7.||Motta Bomb||155 dB||Not declared||Kalahari||Rs. 20 for 10||X|
|8.||China Al||Not known||Not declared||Kalahari||Rs. 20 for 7||X|
|9.||Toy bomb||157 dB||Not declared||Kalahari||Rs 45 for 15||X|
|10.||Cake bomb||130 dB||Yes||Revathi||Rs. 80 for 7||X|
|11.||Roll Amorces||149 dB||Not declared||Kalahari||Rs 5 for 1 strip||X|
|12.||Garland||153 dB||Not declared||Kalahari||Rs. 100 for 150||X|
|13.||12 Star||160 dB||Yes||Kalahari||Rs. 250 for 12||X|
|14.||Liberty Bomb||156 dB||Not declared||Laxmi Shankar||Rs. 10 for 30||X|
|15.||Bijli Train Crackers||149 dB||Yes||No namei||Rs. 50 for 100||X|
|16.||Singara||100 dB||Not declared||No name||Rs. 20 for 40||X|
|17.||Mirchi:||75 dB||Not Declared||No name||Rs. 2 for 25||X|
- Crackers are burst with-in a radius of 100 meters near silent zones like hospitals, nursing homes etc.
Vatavaran’s Survey of Popular Sparklers & Crackers in the Market:
The public buys the crackers and sparklers available in the market. While in 2008 the loud bombs, train bombs, cake bombs had dominated the market, in 2009 it was sparklers– bigger in size, more colorful sparkles. The ear bursting noise levels of 2008 were replaced with smoky sky, watery eyes and breathlessness in 2009. The other replaced one hazard.
Rs. 45 for 10#
|Chakris||“||“||Rs. 15/- for 1 #||X|
|Black||“||“||Rs. 10/- for 3||X|
|Mayur Bangal||“||Thayilpatti||Rs. 10/- for 10||X|
|Ground||“||Jai Ganga||Rs. 80/- for 15||X|
|Gold Sparkles||“||Vijay Lakshmi||Rs. 60/- for 12||X|
|Jil-Jil||“||Lakshmi||Rs. 15/- for 5||X|
|Colored Sparkles||“||“||Rs. 100/- for 2||X|
|Pencil Sparkles||“||“||Rs. 25/- for 10||X|
|Saanp Tikki||“||“||Rs. 2/.- for 12||X|
|Rail||“||“||Rs. 2/- for1||X|
1 CPCB conditions must be attached to the permission letter shopkeepers get from the Area Police Commissioner.
2 Shopkeepers must be made to sign a document that they have understood the conditions and would comply by them.
3 Awareness creating children teams must definitely have a mixture of adults and children.
4 Enforcement Brigade created by Vatavaran must have its cards signed by some government authority.
5 Other NGO’s should also start Enforcement Brigade
Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Founder & Director