Is ‘Silent Diwali’ Possible Despite Harsh Vardhan’s Plea?

The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mrs. Anandiben Patel tying ‘Rakhi’ to the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, in New Delhi on August 08, 2014. (PIB Photo)

The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mrs. Anandiben Patel tying ‘Rakhi’ to the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, in New Delhi on August 08, 2014. (PIB Photo)

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has urged Mr Najeeb Jung, Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, to ensure that the nation’s capital celebrates a “silent Diwali” this year, unaware of the past ban and unban on crackers in India and host of issues and restrictions associated with the festival of lights or crackers now.

The overenthusiastic health minister of India, in an email to the Lieutenant-Governor, stated that noise-pollution free Diwalis are fast becoming the norm in many parts of the country, not giving specific examples. A Supreme Court order of July 2005 had banned the bursting of fire crackers in residential areas, he pointed out, unaware of the fact that is not implemented in toto.

“The implementation of the apex Court’s order has been practically absent in Delhi. Some state governments have been quite successful in ensuring quietness in the revelries. I hope that under your direction, Delhi will turn a corner from this Diwali onwards,” he wrote, wishing too big.

Dr Harsh Vardhan has chosen to ignore the position of apologists saying, “Many excuses have been offered by administrations of the past for Delhi’s general disregard (of the Supreme Court’s order). The reasons advanced vary from “cultural” to “police insufficiency”. These are all unacceptable.”

The Minister, who said he will constitute an expert group to recommend nation-wide ban on noise pollution, recalled progressive governments cannot reconcile cultural sentiments with the suffering of people, especially children and old people.

He pointed out to the L-G, “Firecrackers which sell under a variety of names lead to noise pollution which causes many physical diseases for people of all age groups. Small children and senior children are traumatized the most during the Diwali season because of the tendency to burst loud crackers is most manifested during the night. Many psychological disorders are also caused.”

Dr Harsh Vardhan recalled from his three decades of experience as a practising ENT surgeon in Delhi, how cases of traumatic perforation of the ear drums tended to show a distinct increase in the aftermath of Diwali. Apart from that there are many burn cases and eye injuries, he noted.

With only 8 days left for Diwali, the L-G should not lose time in issuing strict instructions to all police stations, resident welfare association and corporation authorities to enforce the apex Court’s order, the Health Minister said.

Other suggestions he made include involving school and college principals to advise students on the ill-effects of noise pollution and the responsibility of the new generation in building up a compassionate society.

The Health Minister said in his email: “I also suggest that a campaign be launched at the earliest so that people do not invest their money on noise-generating crackers. It would serve no purpose having a campaign after most people have bought crackers as the tendency to break the law would be quite marked.”

But India is not Delhi and even if it is achieved in Delhi by force, rest of the country would take decades to end the noise pollution on Diwali. Moreover, Indian police is too small to control the huge population. The minister is right and as an ENT surgeon, he was right to point out the ill-effects but this is like enlightening smokers, that is going on for the last few decades but in vain.

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