''Koonthankulam'' village in Tamil Nadu - no bursting of firecrackers during Diwali


 Koonthankulam village, Thirunelveli dist., TN veethi.com

Above image: Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary, Thirunelveli District, South Tamil Nadu. 45 types of migratory birds from other countries.  No bursting of firecrackers in this village during Diwali!! ..............

When  various countries across the world  from Europe to South America and from Canada to China are  facing a sort of cataclysmic destruction due to unpredictable climatic  changes, weather patterns causing dangerous cloud busts, flash floods, heavy cyclones and multiple twisters, the environmentalists are quite concerned about the safety of the humanity  and their survival in the next following decades. Since  the advent of industrialization  centuries ago, the earth  and the the air cover around it have been abused as much as possible by  humans all in the name of modern technology. At stake is the environment, an integral part for our survival.  The future  environmental impacts caused by air pollution, water pollution, global warming, increasing volume of rain-borne clouds  and disintegration of big icebergs in the Artic and Subarctic regions, etc.,  will  be horribly severe.   

Diwali festival. Smog in N. Delhi 2018. indiaclimatedialogue.net

Above image: Nation's capital New Delhi. People openly flouted the Supreme Court orders on bursting of firecrackers to the minimum to avoid  serious emission.  This is true of many places across India. Responsible people don't respect laws. Yo can not put the entire blame on the Government............

Diwali haze over Delhi. 2020 economictimes.indiatimes.com

In India we have  recently seen many flash floods in the Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, etc.  A few years ago Kerala experienced the worst flooding during the SW monsoon season. Such erratic climatic changes and the resultant  natural calamities portend  more dangerous situation in the future and the  countries world over have to  take serious steps to cut down on air pollution, which is primary cause of global warming. 

In India we have lots of religious  and temple festivals almost every month of the year.  In October there will be Navaratri festival and it will be followed by Diwali or Deepavali,  the most popular one across India.  Part of Deepavali celebrations  is firing crackers. Firecrackers cause lots of air-pollution due to emission by the dangerous chemicals  and the Indian states already took steps to restrict firing of firecrackers. In the past bursting  of firecrackers in Delhi and the surrounding areas triggered worst air-pollution and the pollutants  causing haze due to calm air  hung in the air for a few days. The worst situation was conducive to health problems related to breathing.   On 14 November 2020 Delhi’s air quality turned “severe”  with stubble burning accounting for 32% of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution and firecracker emissions making the situation even worse.

Diwali air pollution. cartoonistnituparna.org

In the past on the Diwali day  when the people  across  the country were busy  firing various kinds of firecrackers including sparklers  to celebrate the festival of lights with great joy and fun,  natives of a non-descript  village in the District of Thirunelveli,  South Tamil Nadu  celebrated this festival that is symbolic of the ''triumph of the good over the evil'', with more enthusiasm than other places. Yes, the villagers of  Koonthankulam  never busted firecrackers. Nor did they use other kinds of crackers like sparklers.  You will be surprised to know these village folks  have been following this self- imposed restriction in using fire crackers during Diwali  since 1994. Though it is a voluntarily  ban, they knew  very well the smoke from the fired crackers and sound  may threaten  the  near-by place where lots of migratory birds come and roost. 
Celebrate Deepavali without firecrackers. twitter.com

The local temple conducts various festivals and it is a common thing to see busting of crackers. But in this village as collectively decided by the villagers, even the temple celebrations take place without use of  firecrackers at night. Household functions like marriages normally take place with a bit of pomp, but positively without firecrackers. Bursting of firecrackers in the name of festival and religion will not only affect us but also the organisms and the trees around us. It means death to Mother Earth. 

Impact of air pollution. shutterstock.com

According to the Ornithologists more than 45 species of birds from countries as far away as Siberia and Australia come to Koonthankulam.  The purpose was for breeding purposes. as they found the quiet village suitable to their mating. Researchers from the  Kovai based Salim Ali Centre conduct studies on the migratory pattern of birds that prefer this serene village. Other  Tamil Nadu villages  that stand as an example of empathy toward the birds are Vavval Thoppu in Salem dist., Perrampur near Seerkazhi town  and Vishar near the temple town of Kanchipuram. The villagers don't allow bursting of crackers  during Diwali and temple festival days to avoid disturbing bats and other birds.  Even loud speakers are not allowed for family functions as they may scare the bats. 

The Apex court in 2018 had already banned the conventional crackers on pollution grounds and allowed sale of  green firecrackers. The advantage is the  "green crackers" are not as polluting as the conventional types of firecrackers and they contain at least 30 per cent less particulate matter such as Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The town of Sivakasi  and the adjacent places in Tamil Nadu form  the main hub of fireworks in the country and at stake are the livelihood of about 1 million employees. The companies are working hard to come up with eco-friendly types causing less pollution and very low sound. It means  drastic reduction in the emission of harmful chemicals in the air and also sound pollution.   The CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute was given the task of developing "green crackers" to reduce air pollution.