In light of existing public concern over the amount of air & noise pollution that is synchronous with an Indian metropolitan Diwali, the Tamil Nadu State Government has taken a bold step forward by imposing a curfew on the timings when it will be legal to burst crackers in the state this Diwali. The state government issued a press release on Friday via state-owned PTI, urging people to respect and adhere to the guidelines.
Every year after the festival of lights comes to a close, public social media feeds get flooded with posts and pictures that shed light on the striking apathy of Indian mobs towards pets, towards traffic, and cumulatively, towards social order. This directive certainly appears to be in sync with the sentiments of protesters, whose pleas have finally been heard out by both the executive and the judiciary.
The curfew guidelines are a modified version of the recent Supreme Court directive; The overall time is still capped at two hours of firecracker activity.
The Tamil Nadu Government’s decision closely follows the heel of a recent Supreme Court directive, which had urged that the state must restrict all firecracker activity between 8 PM and 10 PM. With slight modifications to the schedule and some added amendments, the new regulations still limit legal firecracker activities to a sum total of two hours.
According to the new guidelines:
- The first slot of bursting firecrackers (that emit noise) is between 06:00 AM to 07:00 AM
- The second (evening) slot has been fixed at between 07:00 PM to 08:00 PM
- People are urged to ensure that they use low-decibel firecrackers, which do not disturb nearby localities and people
- People are requested to not burst firecrackers near hospitals or places of worship so as to not interfere with medical or religious proceedings
Analysts have already argued that the modified timings can be construed as an attempt to appease citizens beyond the SC directive, as people can be expected to break the curfew by a few minutes or hours on either side of the prescribed time slot, and giving them two slots instead of one definitely increases the chances of unsolicited noise and air pollution. The results of this directive will become apparent only after the festival ends.
Concerns over pollution and AQI (Air Quality Index)
Every year, Tamil Nadu’s AQI (air quality index) goes massively haywire after Diwali. In order to evaluate whether the proposed guidelines can make a real difference to the quality of breathable air, the Pollution Control Board in the state has committed itself to a study of the air quality indices across all corporation limits, for up to seven days before and after the festival.