Implementation of SC order a tough task

Implementation of SC order a tough task

Kashta Sadhya’ is the term officials at the state’s controlling and monitoring agencies used when asked about the possibilities of implementing the Supreme Court (SC) orders this Diwali. Officials at the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the police department welcome the two-hour window given by the SC to burst crackers, but feel that implementing the same on the ground is a challenge.

S Suresh, in charge, CPCB, southern region, said the orders are difficult to implement, but since they are issued by the apex court they will have to be executed. “The idea is to ensure less noise and air pollution. The pollution levels will be monitored as directed and a report will be submitted to the ministry and the court as scheduled on November 23,” he said.

“We can only issue directions. It is for the police and local administration to implement it on the ground. We will create awareness among people, educate communities and rope in as many organisations as possible to spread the message,” KSPCB Chairman Lakshman said.

For effective implementation, KSPCB and CPCB have been holding a series of meetings with police and local administrations. KSPCB has also issued a list of ‘Dos and Don’ts’. They have also started the exercise of mapping vulnerable areas like busy market places where regulation can be difficult.

KSPCB, CPCB and the police have also formed a committee to conduct random checks and inspections. They will collect samples of all brands from cracker stores, burst them at designated places and assess the pollution levels. They have also prepared a list of 30 chemicals to be checked. The chemicals will be checked depending on the light emitted after the cracker is burst.

This will help them in analysing the pollution levels in advance and banning the product if required. For instance, the brilliant white colour that appears after the crackers are burst indicates that the product contains aluminium which leads to bioaccumulation and causes contact dermatitis.

KSPCB has also issued a circular to regional offices and private laboratories working with KSPCB to conduct air and noise pollution tests before, during and after Diwali. They will be checking for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, PM10 and PM2.5. 

Environmentalists welcome the SC orders but feel that implementation is difficult. Harini Nagendra, professor of sustainability at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, said that just like the plastic ban, these orders are good, but implementation will be difficult. “Enforcement will not happen realistically. Bursting of crackers will not be controlled immediately, it is a programme which will start now and sustain gradually. The government agencies will have to rope in communities, corporates, educational institutions and many others to make it a success,” she said.

Sharachchandra Lele, senior fellow and convenor, Centre for  Environment and Development, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), said, “People tend to burst crackers four days in advance. Police will have to be alert during this period. There are emotional, cultural, religious and sentimental issues involved. It is likely that the orders will have a nudging effect. Those who are inclined will stop bursting crackers and those who are not, will continue. Since the court has issued orders, violating them will be a civil offence, but booking cases will be a challenge.”

Firecracker dealers are already feeling the heat. “Normally, people start placing bulk orders 15 days before the festival. In recent times, the sales drop by 20% every year. This time, there are no advance bookings also. Worst hit are the markets of Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hassan and Belagavi,” said Krishnamurthy a cracker dealer. He added that it will be difficult for the government agencies to monitor areas bordering Tamil Nadu.

There is also a lot of confusion in the market about green crackers. “Consumers are asking us for less polluting crackers, but we do not know what they are exactly. We are selling what has been supplied to us and what runs in the market. If things go this way, then sustaining in the business will be difficult. The government should stop bursting crackers at political events also as they too cause a lot of air and noise pollution,” said Shanthappa, another crackers dealer. 

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