New Delhi, Apr 13, 2018 : Harmful fumes from crackers can cause miscarriage, hinder growth of children and aggravate respiratory illnesses among children and pregnant women, the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry has said in an affidavit while pushing for stringent regulation of firecrackers across India.
The ministry has given its views to the ministry of environment and forests last fortnight so the two can present a consolidated view of the Centre before the Supreme Court, which is hearing a matter seeking a ban on the sale of crackers in the country.
The ministry in its affidavit has also said that the firecracker industry is “ridden” with child labour and forced labour, seeking control over its use.
“We wanted to become a party in the case going on in the apex court as the issue directly concerns us. Bursting of firecrackers has grave implications on the health and well being of women and children. We have submitted our views in an affidavit to the environment ministry,” a senior WCD ministry official, who did not want to be named, said.
Last October, the Supreme Court reinstated its ban on the sale of firecrackers in and around New Delhi ahead of Diwali, with a view to stopping a toxic haze from engulfing the region. The court’s order came following a petition on behalf of a child to recall its earlier order in September 2017 relaxing the ban.
“…. the applicant would humbly like to state that after firing the crackers, fine dust particles get settled on the surrounding surfaces which are packed with chemicals like copper, zinc, sodium, lead, magnesium, cadmium and pollutants like oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. These chemicals, in turn, irritates the respiratory tract causes anaemia by reducing the capacity of blood to carry oxygen, fever, vomiting, harms the nervous system and causes burns … ,” the WCD ministry has said in its affidavit.
“… Children, pregnant women and those suffering from respiratory illness suffer the most due to excessive noise and chemicals emitted by firecrackers…. the harmful fumes while firing crackers can lead to miscarriage…. petitioner is of the view that due control is necessary on firecrackers to eliminate or limit risks to women and children from such noise and air pollution,” it adds.
The WCD ministry has cited a study carried out by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in 2013, which found that fireworks, matches, and incense stick producing factories of Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu employ children aged between 5-15 years who work for more than 12 hours a day, on the issue of the firecracker industry promoting child labour.
Health experts agree to the harmful effect of smoke and noise from firecrackers on the health of old people, children and pregnant women. “Exposure at a higher level to certain chemicals could lead to permanent harm to the foetus,” Dr Bandana Sodhi, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at Delhi’s Moolchand hospital, said.