Karnataka govt likely to impose green cracker norm this year too | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Just like last year, the state government is likely to limit Diwali festivities to green crackers to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus and the threat of other respiratory infections which normally spread much quicker during the winter.
While fresh cases have plummeted, the number of active Covid-19 cases in the state are at the lowest since March 16 when the second wave was beginning. However, given the intensity of the second wave, the government is wary of triggering a third.
Under similar circumstances last year, then chief minister BS Yediyurappa had at first banned all kinds of firecrackers but did a U-turn and allowed green crackers after the government came under intense pressure from pro-Hindutva groups and ruling BJP legislators.
The Basavaraj Bommai government is likely to face a similar challenge, as the Karnataka pollution control board is actively considering imposing a ‘zero cracker’ norm that envisages a total ban on crackers to keep the air pollution under control.
“A ‘zero cracker’ Diwali is what we are looking at, as protecting public health and safety is the priority in the given situation,” said Srinivasulu, member secretary of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). “We are waiting for guidelines from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in this regard. Based on CPCB guidelines, we will send our recommendations to the government.”
In anticipation of the pollution control board’s strict guidelines, the state government is looking at ways to ensure smooth celebrations this Diwali. Officials in the state health department and family welfare department said the government is leaning towards green crackers and imposing a ban on all other kinds.
“We need to consider various factors before finalising SOPs for Diwali celebrations. We will ask the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to provide recommendations,” said TK Anil Kumar, principal secretary to the health department.
The TAC had drafted guidelines for the just concluded Dasara celebrations and Eid-Milad, which will be celebrated on Tuesday. Panel members say the government is likely to call for a meeting later this week. “Allowing green crackers is one option, but we need to wait for the pollution control board’s recommendations,” said Dr MK Sudarshan, TAC chairman.
The shell of a green cracker is much smaller, and it also has fewer pollutant raw materials. The special composition ensures less smoke. “In normal firecrackers, heavy metals like chromium and cadmium produce attractive colours. Green crackers eliminate these heavy metals which are injurious to the lungs,” said Srinivasulu.
Dr V Ravi, noted virologist and TAC member, said it is important to avoid smokeemitting firecrackers this winter since it will be colder than normal thanks to the prolonged spell of the northwest monsoon. “Respiratory infections generally occur when the temperature drops,” said Dr Ravi. “About a dozen viruses including respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, enterovirus, influenza and parainfluenza are likely to be prevalent, while numerous cases of dengue are already being reported. It is better to avoid crackers since the novel coronavirus is still around, besides these other viruses.”

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Sagar Biswas

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