Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Home Opinions Why shaming Hindus for alleged pollution on Diwali is completely misplaced

Why shaming Hindus for alleged pollution on Diwali is completely misplaced

Also Read

lordwalrus
Scientist, Educator, Politically Incorrect, Right Wing, Idolator.

It is that time of the year when all Hindus are shamed for celebrating one of their most important festivals – Diwali. Apart from lights, the festival is celebrated with fireworks. The common point of accusation against the Hindus is that the festival causes pollution, and serious harm to health of kids and adults alike. Plus we are also reminded of animals getting disturbed by loud noises and being hazardous to birds.

While smoke is an issue on Diwali day, let us take stock of the facts about pollution – and Diwali’s contribution to it. There are few threads in this problem:

  • The overall pollution levels and the source thereof
  • The persistence of firecracker pollution
  • The economics of fireworks in the recent years.

A Greenpeace report claims that all around the year, the Indian metropolis are uninhabitable with respect to air quality. Particularly Delhi, has the distinction of being the most polluted city in the world. Average year round air pollutant levels in Delhi were more than 5 times the safe levels as specified by India and were 10 times higher of that as specified by WHO.

The report identified construction and vehicular traffic to be the two largest contributors of pollution. The third largest contributor was practice of burning paddy husk in nearby states. While such a detailed analysis has not been done for other cities, anecdotal evidence suggests that construction dust may be the biggest culprit, when it comes to air pollution.

Besides construction dust and vehicular pollution, bad infrastructure (as in bad roads) creates suspended particular matter that are effective respiratory pollutants. This is particularly true of metros where civil amenities are more of a wish than a reality. From the above points, it is clear that majority of the pollution in our cities is a persistent year round issue and is not singularly caused during Diwali.

There was a research paper published by IIT-Kanpur in 2016, which studies the issue of pollution and its causes in great detail; in and around the National Capital Region. One particular figure in this report is educative. The figure has been reproduced below:

The time series graph shows the pollution levels in Delhi during the month of November (year) 2013. The first data point is Diwali day – and one does see that the pollutant levels were much higher than the mean [red and blue dotted lines]. What is interesting however, are the pollution level spikes on the 5th of November, on the 9th and 11th, and on 21 through 23rd.

In fact, the pollution levels on the 23rd of November are far higher than on Diwali day. One may argue that the Diwali pollution persists for three weeks, but the data falsifies such a hypothesis. In fact, we find that the pollutant level on Diwali day falls well below the mean levels by the next day. Furthermore, the median pollutant levels across the month also seem to be well below mean levels. These two data together suggests that the pollution caused by Diwali is extremely short-lived (less than 24 hrs), and is no worse than the usual sporadic spikes of pollutants that are observed in Delhi.

Another aspect of Diwali that gets condemned is the noise pollution. While firecrackers used to be noisy (upto 140 dB) in the past, continuous revisions in acceptable noise levels have brought down the overall noise levels to less than 100 dB – and that was the maximum noise by a firecracker. In fact, the overall noise levels across several cities were measured to be between 60 dB and 90 dB (far lesser than the 100 dB of the noisiest cracker). Compare this with a typical noise level in a city junction: honking creates noise in excess of 100 dB.

A look at the differential noise between a normal day and Diwali noises shows that in many places, the differences are marginal. In fact, in some cities, the differences are so marginal that one may consider it to be well within expected variation.

This figure is from a Central Pollution Control Board study on pollution during Diwali across India (2014). Sadly, this report doesn’t provide confidence intervals for the noise levels; nor does it provide any P-values for the differences in noise between normal and Diwali day. What is clear, is that Diwali is likely to be as noisy as any normal working day in Indian cities:

A statistical test for Bangalore for Normal and Diwali days (screen shot below) shows that the mean difference in noise between a normal and festival day in the city is barely 2 dB. In other words, the difference is negligible. Diwali doesn’t create any extra-ordinary noise pollution than an normal day
Last but not least, we come to the question of economics. Several reports such as this one point out that fire cracker sales have been falling drastically, on an annual basis. This particular report cites a 20% reduction YoY in sales for five consecutive years. Such drastic reduction in fire cracker sales would mean at least a halving of total sales (taking a base line of 100 INR, -20% CAGR for 5 years leaves us with 32 INR – or a 68% reduction).

In one particular year, 2015-2016, the fall was 25%. Yet, some newspaper reports claimed a 40% increase in pollution on Diwali due to firecrackers. This doesn’t compute: how can one cut down firecracker purchase by almost 70%, and still end up with 40% increased smoke?

Does it mean that firecrackers are creating 3 times as much smoke as before? While it is “possible”, it is not probable. And the jury will be out on this one until specific studies are done. On the other hand, given the first graph we saw – one could argue that majority of the pollution is due to other causes, and Diwali smoke only marginally adds to it. This seems to be the more likely scenario – at least for Delhi.

In summary, pollution increase during Diwali – of both the air, and noise, is likely marginal, and more importantly, extremely temporary in nature. Vilification of both the festival and those who celebrate it on environmental grounds, seems like vested hatred than anything else.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Author’s blog “Rumbles of a Lonely Mammoth” and has been re-published here with due permissions.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

lordwalrus
Scientist, Educator, Politically Incorrect, Right Wing, Idolator.

Trending now

AMU girl complains about being threatened and hounded since CAA was passed, told she will be made to wear “brass hijab”

Calling her a "Sanghi", the fellow AMU students had attacked her for calling out sexualisation of women in the varsity

Islamists issue rape threats to a social media user for asking Muslims to recite Azaan at lower volume

Apart from Fardeen Modal, Ashi's Azaan tweet miffed other Muslims, who also abused the Hindu girl on Twitter

Secret meetings, plan of action and riots: How Safoora Zargar and others are intertwined in the murder of Ratan Lal during Delhi riots

Name of Jamia Millia Islamia student Safoora Zargar appears multiple times in Ratan Lal murder chargesheet

Google head Sundar Pichai, who studied at IIT Kharagpur, is all set to bring a digital revolution worth Rs 75,000 crore in India: Read...

Google, headed by Sundar Pichai, pitches in to help bring about a digital revolution in India

A tribute to Tapan Ghosh: The firebrand leader who helped Muslim women marry their Hindu lovers and secure a happy ending to their love...

Hindutva Icon of West Bengal, Tapan Ghosh, passed away on Sunday, days after he was diagnosed with the Wuhan Coronavirus.

Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Jagan and Himanta Biswa: How Congress ignored key regional leaders and eventually lost those states

Choosing loyalists over popularity and calibre has cost Congress dearly. Losing key regional leaders has decimated the party to ruins in many states.

Recently Popular

The curious case of ‘Drone Boy’ who has made 600 drones using broken mixer grinders and televisions. A fact-check

While 'drone boy' Prathap NM has claimed to have made 600 drones using e-waste, not a single photo or video of them exist

‘Drone boy’ Prathap NM makes a statement after OpIndia fact-check: Here is why his explanation makes little sense

'Drone boy' Prathap NM says he won't show his drones due to intellectual property issues, but will show certificates from unregistered events

Sachin Pilot reaches Delhi with 25 MLAs amid speculations of Rajasthan government collapse, Gehlot holds late night meetings

Ashok Gehlot claimed that the State government was stable and would continue to remain so despite all efforts to the contrary

Pakistanis are shocked that Turkish actress does not cover herself head-to-toe in real life like her role in TV show Ertugrul, slams for wearing...

Pakistani Islamists troll Turkish actress Esra Bilgiç for her modern clothing, not traditional dress like her historical role in a TV show

Stand-up comedian apologises for insulting memorial to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in Arabian sea after MNS workers vandalised studio

The stand-up 'comedian' Agrima Joshua had made scornfully derisive remarks in her video against the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial that is going to be erected in the Arabian Sea

Aakar Patel abuses Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar – reasons go beyond hatred for Modi

The 'Woke' secular-liberal camp of current times is defined by its elitist arrogance and crass snobbery. 'Human rights activist' Aakar Patel is one such specimen.

Here are the six significant statements by the court today while denying bail to Tahir Hussain, accused in the Delhi anti-Hindu riots

Tahir Hussain had sought bail saying there was no cogent evidence to link him to Ankit Sharma's murder

Nepal PM says Shri Ram was Nepali and India has created ‘fake Ayodhya’, admits scholars will not believe his ‘new fact’

Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli claimed that India falsely says Shri Ram was born in Ayodhya, India.

Amidst rising demand to boycott Chinese products, Bollywood actor Karthik Aryan drops multi-crore endorsement deal with Oppo

Karthik Aryan has become the first Bollywood actor to drop a multi-crore deal with a Chinese brand.

AMU girl complains about being threatened and hounded since CAA was passed, told she will be made to wear “brass hijab”

Calling her a "Sanghi", the fellow AMU students had attacked her for calling out sexualisation of women in the varsity

The death of BJP MLA Debendra Nath Roy shows that no opposition political leader is safe in West Bengal

BJP MLA in West Bengal, Debendra Nath Roy, was found hanging in public on Monday.

Why ‘liberal’ hate against Amitabh Bachchan for getting admitted to a hospital after testing positive for Coronavirus makes no sense at all

A bevy of perverse liberals took to Twitter to denounce Amitabh Bachchan after he got Coronavirus, claiming it to be a "privilege of rich" and accusing him of needlessly occupying a hospital bed

London: Indian diaspora, PoK activists and Iranian diaspora protest outside the Chinese embassy over ‘expansionist policies’

Demonstrators were heard singing the Indian National Anthem 'Jan Gan Maan' and the Indian National song, 'Vande Mataram' at the protest site.

AIB co-founder Rohan Joshi, who wanted entire Pawar family dead, deactivates his Twitter account

AIB co-founder Rohan Joshi has deactivated his account after screenshots of his abusive tweets against politicians went viral .

Gehlot’s last ‘resort’? Congress moves MLAs to Jaipur hotel, Pilot claims Rajasthan govt has lost majority

Reports claimed that 107 MLAs, including some independents, were present at the CM's residence. Congress has moved its MLAs to a resort in Jaipur.

In touch with ISIS recruiters since 2015: NIA arrests 2 Islamic State terrorists in Pune planning to carry out terror attacks in India

The duo arrested by the NIA were involved in promoting and propagating ISIS and their activities in India

Connect with us

235,877FansLike
406,231FollowersFollow
274,000SubscribersSubscribe