A Diwali themed Whatsapp joke disguised as a fact checking tool has been doing the rounds lately. It promises to prove the veracity of Valmiki’s epic using Google Maps. The gist of the tool is as follows: Apparently, Google Maps shows that it takes 21 days to walk from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya. This showcases why Ram’s homecoming is celebrated twenty days after the heroic defeat of Rawana in Sri Lanka. Thus, modern science coincides with age old traditions, proving that the traditions are rooted in truth.
Honestly though, even without this added proof, a majority of Indians would be celebrating Diwali this year with bright panache. Diwali is synonymous with colorful rangolis and lamps adorning the entrances of homes; autumn cleaning with brand new white washes and crisp new clothes; sweets, mithais and gifts for neighbors, friends and relatives. But most important of all, Diwali seems to be incomplete without the burst and crackle of firecrackers. It is these firecrackers that bring out the dark side of our beloved festival of lights.
Firecrackers – Behind the Bright Lights
A 2016 Study cited by a Business Standard article last November stated that according to the WHO, many popular firecrackers emit particulate matter 200 to 2000 times the safety limits. Among these firecrackers are ones we even allow small children to light up like fuljadi(sparkler) and anar(flower-pot).
Many people claim that Delhi suffers from insufferable pollution around the year and that one day cannot make that big a difference. We should thus, allow our children and adults to enjoy this festival and not overplay the harmful effects on air pollution. To those people we would like to say that last year, according to media reports which were using data available from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s website, real-time air quality degraded severely over Diwali night. Taking RK Puram as an example, PM10 was at 862 µg/m3 (more than 8 times higher than the prescribed standard) and PM2.5 concentration was recorded at 434 µg/m3 (more than 7 times the prescribed standard). This sub-optimal pollution trend was experienced in most areas in Delhi.
Both these varieties of particulate matter together form the deadliest components of air pollution and can lead to respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer. In fact, the firecrackers being burnt not only have a halo effect on air pollution for several days after Diwali, but also contribute to pollution via their waste, which needs to be burnt for disposal.
Supreme Court Ban
There are several other factors contributing to air pollution in Delhi. Firecrackers, however, form a significant slice of the air pollution pie and can thus, not be ignored. We, therefore, believe the supreme court’s recent ban on the sale of firecrackers till the 1st of November is a move in the right direction. Both permanent and temporary licence-holders won’t be able to sell crackers from the 9th of October to the 1st of November. Many have criticized this move as judicial over-reach or anti-Hindu, but environmentalists have shown widespread support. Implementation may still be difficult to achieve but even partial adoption may have positive results.
Discussions about air pollution become more prominent around Diwali. But in reality, Delhi suffers from poor air quality throughout the year, which just sky-rockets during this festive season. In order to obtain a full picture, it is important to understand the components of air pollution, its effects of health and the various factors leading to it.
National Air Quality Index
Health Effects of Air Pollution
Factors Causing Air Pollution
So far in the article, we have mainly addressed only one cause of air pollution and that is burning of firecrackers. But firecrackers are burnt only once or at best twice a year by large groups of people. The other factors that cause Delhi to be the 11th most polluted city in the world are as follows:
- Burning of Paddy Fields in Punjab and Haryana
- Vehicular Emission
- Dust from Construction Activities
- Burning of Waste – especially waste containing plastic, rubber and metal items
- Diesel Generator Sets(DG Sets)
- Industries and Power Plants in and around Delhi
According to a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Kanpur, power plants, industrial clusters, restaurants and the diesel generators are the primary source of pollution from sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Delhi. In fact, almost 98% of SO2 and 60% of NOx emitted in Delhi every day can be attributed to the afore mentioned sources. Not only that, these sources also contribute close to 19% of PM2.5 and 14% PM10 levels in the city.
Dharmendra Pradhan, the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, went as far as to say that the amount of pollution caused by a coal-based thermal power plants in Delhi in one day is equal to the amount of toxic air caused by vehicles for the entire year.
Why Go Solar?
Solar energy can help mediate the negative effect of DG sets, coal based thermal power plants and low quality oil used by small and medium sized industries to generate power. The sun is going to be around for at least four billion more years to come, so we never have to worry about running out of solar power. Moreover, the following reasons make it obvious that solar energy should be adopted at the earliest to combat air pollution:
- It is a clean source of energy. Thus, there will no longer exist a trade-off between good health and industrialization and growth.
- Solar panels are getting cheaper and the cost of producing electricity has fallen to Rs. 2.44/kwh , which is much lower than electricity produced via coal.
- In accordance with nationally determined contributions in the Paris Climate Agreement, by 2030 the government aims at having 100GW of solar installed capacity. TheJawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission targets 100GW by 2022. Thus, solar energy will be incentivized and the benefits can already be seen in the form of solar tax breaks and subsidies.
- By opting for residential solar rooftops, people can, not only get their investment back in 3-4 years, but also enjoy free electricity thereafter for around 25 more years to come.
The above monetary and health reasons should be enough to make anyone want to break the inertia of producing electricity through conventional means. Moving towards a cleaner and cheaper way of lighting up your home as well as the homes of your neighbors through solar powered panels has never been more lucrative.
But we at Zunroof want to welcome you into the world of solar with a special Diwali offer. If you book your solar PV project with us before the 31st of October 2017, we would like to present you with a 3gm gold coin or a wifi enabled camera. This is our Diwali gift to you. Do you want to gift yourself a cleaner Delhi along with a lower electricity bill? Go Solar! Simply fill out the form below or click here or call +91-920-569-5690 and we’ll do the rest: