Sunday, 29 November, 2020
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OPINION

Ban Firecrackers



Bini Dahal

While it is always essential for everyone to stay healthy, the coronavirus pandemic has multiplied the necessity to be physically sound. As the COVID-19 infections in Nepal have been on the rise and we still do not know when a vaccine is going to be developed, it is important for us to refrain ourselves from any activity that may put our health at risk.
Since this is the main festival season, people are having difficulty in celebrating festivals in full swing. With Tihar, a festival of lights, round the corner, many people are already found burning firecrackers even in the Kathmandu Valley. Though firecrackers are not allowed to be bought and sold legally, people still get their hands on them. We can hear children firing firecrackers as a means of celebrating the festival. They are completely unaware of the air pollution and other hazards firecrackers can cause to human health. And on top of that, the increased impact that the pollution can have on people in the times of the coronavirus pandemic is bigger.
Keeping this in mind, the Indian environmental court has recently issued an order, putting a ban on the use of firecrackers in cities where the pollution level is extremely high. Major Indian cities like New Delhi are already tackling the third wave of the coronavirus while simultaneously suffering from ever rising air pollution. So, in a way, we can say that air pollution is one of the major causes behind the increasing number of virus infections. As India has already become the country with the second-highest COVID-19 infections in the world after the USA, the Indian government has now additional responsibility of taking care of the health of its populace.
Firecrackers are really harmful in nature. They generate aerosols. The bursting of crackers may help further spread the virus disease. When burnt, such explosives can release smoke and dust particles that may contain harmful chemicals such as zinc, copper, lead magnesium and pollutants like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. These chemicals when present in the air can harm human health as we are breathing polluted air instead of the fresh oxygen that our lungs require. Not only does it make healthy people sick, the polluted air can also create more complications for those who are already suffering from various diseases, including the virus disease. Besides, firecrackers are a major source of noise pollution during the festival of Tihar. So, their sound may have harmful effects on human health. Sometimes such explosives can break out a fire in houses or settlements.
Like India, Nepal should also immediately step up measures to put a complete ban on the use of firecrackers. The police and other relevant agencies should strictly monitor shops and residential areas to stop the sale and use of firecrackers. Creating mass awareness of the health hazards of such firecrackers is equally important. If people are not aware of such harms as well as the legal punishment they may have to face while using the firecrackers, it may not be possible for the authorities to control the use of these destructive objects.
Every year, with the arrival of Tihar, young kids and people become excited about burning firecrackers and do it even when it is not allowed. Parents and local communities must teach their children and others to enjoy the festival without feeling the need to burn such explosives. They must know about the catastrophe a single firecracker can bring.

How do you feel after reading this news?