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Ban goes up in smoke as polluting firecrackers light up Gurugram’s skyline

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Large-scale and widespread bursting of polluting firecrackers, a banned substance in Delhi/National Capital Region, on Diwali on Sunday, has once again put the air back in the emergency, leaving residents with watery eyes and gritty throats on Monday morning

People burst fire crackers on Diwali in Baldev Nagar in Gurugram on Sunday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
People burst fire crackers on Diwali in Baldev Nagar in Gurugram on Sunday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

What’s more, despite the ban being flouted with impunity, not a single case has been registered by the police anywhere across the city. The reason was as flimsy as they come — police claim they didn’t have any mechanism by which to ascertain which category of crackers — polluting or green — were being burnt, senior officers said on Monday, adding that green crackers were allowed to be used in Gurugram.

Also, bursting of crackers continued well after midnight almost everywhere for which police received several telephonic complaints but no action could be taken as teams couldn’t find any violators by the time they reached the spots from where the calls were made.

Banned category crackers were sold clandestinely across the city till Diwali and at least four FIRs were registered at different police stations after raids unearthed at least 2,500 kilograms illegal crackers, which were seized in the past 10 days, officials said, adding that traders had changed labels and packaged polluting crackers to pass them off as green crackers.

Varun Kumar Dahiya, assistant commissioner of police (crime), said more than 20 teams were formed to check the sale and use of illegal crackers across the city.

“Our teams checked logos and stickers at shops but we had no mechanism to ascertain whether the crackers that were burst by residents were the polluting variety or the green ones,” he said.

Dahiya said they kept a close watch in Gadoli, Pataudi, Farrukhnagar and neighbouring areas before Diwali to crack down on sales of polluting crackers.

Meanwhile, Nishant Kumar Yadav, deputy commissioner of Gurugram, said at least 20 persons were arrested till the morning of Diwali for allegedly being involved in the sale and storage of polluting firecrackers. “Subdivisional magistrates were leading teams to crack down on the sales of the contraband,” he said.

Anil Kumar, a cracker wholesaler in Kadipur, said though there was a ban, polluting crackers were still widely available in the market and people had purchased them in large quantities. “Even after the ban, the clandestine sales of polluting crackers were much more than that of green crackers, which are more expensive,” he said.

“I was engaged in selling green crackers which are at least 40% costlier than polluting or traditional fireworks as non-polluting raw materials used in their manufacturing. Everyone wants to be pocket friendly. Only those who can afford to spend more or are extremely conscious of the environment, go for green crackers. Everyone else went for the polluting ones,” he said.

Ruchika Sethi Takkar, founder member of ‘Why waste your waste’, a civil society movement for zero-waste city, said it was evident on Diwali evening that neither the administration nor the residents were concerned about public health.

“Administration’s orders were flouted at will. Why was a window given to burst the “so called green crackers without barium” when it was not followed up by any checks or monitoring?” she said.

Takkar said, quoting the report on HT exposing a dealer network claiming to have sold large quantities of conventional firecrackers under the guise of “green crackers”, said it should have awakened the district administration of what was to come on Diwali.

She said the gains made on account of rain and a positive change in wind direction was lost in a matter of hours, with a thick smog enveloping the city. “Rooms got filled with smoke since people were bursting crackers in front of homes. The DC order did not give any directives on designated places for fireworks. This is one of the reasons we had sent in representation to the DC and police on October 7 asking them to revoke the order permitting use of “green Crackers”,” Takkar said.

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