In the name of religion, which has been intricately woven with nature since the beginning of time, we burn and drown effigies and do all sorts of things that harm nature more than do good.
In Mumbai alone, on 9th September this year, 17, 696 idols of Lord Ganesha were immersed. The material, commonly used for making these idols, is Plaster of Paris (PoP), changes to Gypsum – which takes up to 17 years to slowly break down. On breaking down, it increases the hardness of the water. This, along with the inorganic, synthetic paints and colours used, drastically affect the life-carrying capabilities of water. Consider this, the aquatic life forms – that do manage to survive – eventually reach high enough in the food chain for our own consumption. Also, several people depend on these very same water bodies for livelihood – directly and indirectly.
While we may, dubiously, look at banning Chinese imported goods, there are some ideas – for good – that we could import or learn from them. Last year, China restricted the use of fireworks, despite it being part of an age-old tradition, in 700 cities. Shanghai also banned all fireworks in the inner-city areas surrounding its outer ring road this year, on Chinese New Year. To enforce this, more than 30,000 volunteers were recruited and fines of up to $75 were imposed.
Delhi’s AAP government took a bold step in ushering in the odd-even formula to reduce the menacing levels of air pollution, when will the government – of state and Centre – muster the courage to take similar and more severe steps to curb it further?
The constant haze shrouding the city over the last few days coupled by scarcity of winds has led to Delhi seeing two consecutive days of ‘severe’ levels of pollution prompting the Delhi High Court to term it as a “gas chamber”. People with heart or lung diseases, older adults and children have been advised to stay indoors with minimal activity during severe levels of pollution.
A new study has also found that exposure to fine particulate matter in the air could also cause ‘serious’ damage and inflammation to blood vessels among young healthy adults. Further, frequent exposure to PM2.5 could lead to abnormal changes in the blood, triggering cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, there is a risk or threat for everyone – not just children and the elderly but young adults too.
According to reports, last year, the Delhi High Court noted that “Diwali has religious context only in illuminating the buildings traditionally with diyas. There was nothing to suggest that bursting of firecrackers is related to any religious tenet.” However, the Supreme Court refused to put out a ban on bursting crackers, saying it might be ‘dangerous’ to infringe on the rights of common man to enjoy his religious festivals.
There is a desperate need to ban these so called ‘religious practices’, however, with vote-bank politics in play it may never see the light of day. This time, we cannot even turn to our god-status celebrities because posing with a Ganesha idol or a phuljari in hand makes for a better ‘instagram’ moment – Hashtag ‘Spread happiness’. I wonder if, at his homecoming, Lord Rama would enjoy walking through and inhaling all this poison.