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Old festival habits die hard and now the Supreme Court’s verdict on Tuesday made this harder by allowing only ‘green crackers’ this Diwali. In the verdict, specific time slots have been allotted for the bursting of firecrackers during festivities. While Indians cannot imagine celebrating a festival like Diwali without lighting firecrackers but maybe for the sake of our health and environment, we will consider a safer and better option.

Even though no firecracker can be completely pollution-free, but at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), scientists have developed a formula that may well be categorized as green crackers.

Green Fire Crackers

Representational image only (source)

What’s interesting is that one of the formulations can even produce water molecules and will act as a dust suppressant. It is likely to reduce the emission of particulate matter by 30-35% and harmful chemicals like nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide.

These have been developed by scientists at CSIR’s National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and if people are willing to make the switch, the prototypes of e-crackers (electronic crackers) are ready for adoption.

The formulations have been sent to the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) — a statutory authority entrusted with framing rules under the Explosives Act, 1884, and the Inflammable Substances Act, 1952.

In an interview with TOI, NEERI director Rakesh Kumar said, “Once PESO approves these formulations, manufacturers will go ahead with production. We can even handhold the manufacturers so that they can quickly scale it up to meet demand.”

This year, the products are not ready for mass production but last year, PESO approved a prototype which might be available in the market. Also, it gave instructions to manufacturers to make products free of harmful pollutants like arsenic, mercury, lithium, antimony, and lead.

SC has also banned the online sale of crackers in its verdict and anyone selling them on e-commerce portals will be pulled up for the contempt. Also, due to the employment of casual workers in this sector, the firecracker manufacturers had opposed the ban as it will lead to economic hardship for people involved and loss of revenue.

Early this year, the center directed Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute(CEERI) to develop e-crackers that are cost-effective and more people can use this clean alternative.

While speaking to TOI, Santanu Chaudhury, CEERI director said, “We are ready with prototypes which can generate patterns of colors and noise within the prescribed limit. We are now waiting for its production.

In, Tamil Nadu’s Sivakashi, which is a hub of firecrackers industries- some of the products have been successfully tested by CSIR-NEERI. While proceeding with their second round, they will be using inexpensive material and run several experiments to make these crackers safer to use.

It’s about time we all adopt an environment-friendly Diwali.