• Air pollution is a serious health issue in the country especially in the northern parts during winter seasons.
• The air pollution in the northern region is attributed to dust, burning of crops in certain states, burning of garbage construction and prevailing climatic conditions.
• This air pollution has serious impacts on the health of children aged people and people suffering from respiratory ailments. Diwali which is a festival of lights falls during the same period.
• As a matter of practice people have been celebrating Diwali by bursting crackers.
• Crackers contains combustible chemicals that include potassium chlorate powdered aluminum, magnesium, salts of barium, copper, sodium, lithium, strontium etc. and emits smoke on combustion of these chemicals along with sound.
• This smoke and sound has health impacts on children, aged people and also animal and birds.
• Apart from these compounds large amount of waste is also generated after bursting of crackers.
• The above detrimental effects and also the importance of the festival, Ministry has initiated a “Harit–Diwali” campaign.
• This campaign was initiated in 2017-18 wherein large number of school children especially from eco-clubs participated and took pledge to minimize bursting of crackers and also discouraged the neighborhood and their friends from bursting of crackers.
• During this intensive campaign, the children were advised to celebrate Diwali in an environment-friendly manner by gifting plant sapling to their relatives and friends along with sweets.
• It undertake cleaning of houses, neighbourhoods, schools, collect old books and unused notebooks gift to needy children, donate old warm clothing, blankets to night-shelters and other homeless people.
• The children were encouraged to light up their houses and their schools with candles and diyas. The above campaign was extremely successful and the air quality had not deteriorated post Diwali in 2017 unlike what was experienced in 2016.
• The Ministry has initiated the similar campaign, but this year the campaign has been extended Pan-India.
• The “Harit Diwali-Swasth Diwali” campaign is now merged with “Green Good Deed” movement that has been initiated as a social mobilization for conservation and protection of environment.
• The Ministry encourages all schools and colleges to be part of this campaign.
Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Prelims level: Green Good Deed Campaign, Harit Diwali Campaign
Mains level: Community sensitization initiatives to curb menace of air pollution.