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Prabhu Chawla is right that Diwali isn't the root cause of pollution!
Prabhu Chawla, veteran journalist and chief editor of English daily 'The New Indian Express' tweeted an interesting logical response to Airtel's tweet on pollution.

Airtel had tweeted: 'This Diwali join us in the fight against pollution to #BringBackOurStars. Take the pledge: airtel.in/bringbackourstar..'

Prabhu Chawla's tweet said: 'Sorry @airtelindia many more crackers were burst from 1950 to mid 1990s yet we could see stars shining up in the skies. But polluted reforms led poisonous growth have contributed to the vanishing stars and Not just the crackers. #Happy Diwali'

This tweet, in fact, challenges the argument of people, activists and even the Supreme Court which is holding Diwali and crackers as responsible for increase in pollution.

Yes, bursting of crackers on Diwali and other occasions has been followed since ages but never there has been any problem of environmental pollution. Rather, it was said that the smoke in fact kills a lot of insects that are harmful for crops.

From 1990 onwards economic reforms were taken up and the focus was placed on industrial revolution. It's good to go for industrial growth. But then, various preventive measures towards controlling pollution were never given priority. That's why fast industrial growth also led to rapid environmental pollution. It's always said that there must be a balance between growth/development and environment. It's good that governments and courts have now started implementing various measures to curb the pollution. But then, populist politics always acts as a barrier.

For example, even courts wanted to ban diesel vehicles in Delhi and other major cities. But because it was related to livelihood of many, no political will was visible to implement such measures. Delhi's problem is different. The city not only has the highest number of vehicles but also has industries that are least bothered to implement measures to control pollution.

Arvind Kejriwal government ordered in February 2015 that no pollution clearance will be required for small scale industries. This was a populist move as any industry small or heavy, contributes towards polluting the environment. Apart from this, large scale burning of agricultural waste in Haryana and Punjab also contributes to air pollution in Delhi and perhaps is the main reason for heavy presence of so-called smog.

It's not only in Delhi, but also in many other states, where governments are turning a blind eye on uncontrolled industrialisation and are averse to implementing even basic pollution control measures for two reasons. The time taken for scrutinising environmental impact and subsequent clearance is time consuming and state governments have limited time for giving clearance to industries, keeping in mind their political interests. The cost of equipment and technology for pollution control is very high and in some industries, it's not affordable.

So, what can governments do? Governments while granting licences to industries must ensure that the right technology and equipment is installed to control pollution. If the cost of such pollution control technology is unaffordable, governments should provide subsidies/tax relief and other facilities. The crux of the matter is that although job creation is no doubt important, but at the same time, saving the environment is too necessary.

Finally, I would say that instead of targeting festivals, governments and courts must focus on the root cause of environmental pollution. I totally agree with Prabhu Chawla that Diwali has been observed for ages. But it's only recently that it is being blamed for pollution.

Yes, the Chinese crackers are toxic and must be banned. But country made crackers should be allowed. Most importantly, instead of banning crackers, emphasis should be laid on banning diesel vehicles, introducing subsidies on electric vehicles, implementing strict measures for curbing industrial pollution etc. Clamping bans doesn't help.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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