Why waste money on noisy firecrackers when you could save that money or use it to buy books or toys for underprivileged children? A social movement has been creating awareness about this for the last seven years, and has helped in saving up to Rs15 crore every year by making students and parents pledge to reduce their spending on firecrackers.
The Eradication of Superstition society reaches out to nearly 1.5 lakh students across the state. Students from 35 city schools and 150 Thane schools have signed a written resolution to cut down their firecracker usage by at least half this year and not burst crackers that create too much noise.
In markets where firecrackers are sold, the society has even put up stalls selling books and scientific toys, promoting creative alternatives to firecrackers.
“Even middle class families in the city generally end up blowing thousands of rupees on firecrackers. The decibel levels in the city are so high during Diwali that it can even deafen people. Instead, that money can be spent on constructive activities such as reading or even helping the needy,” said Narendra Achyut Dabolkar, founder of the society.
Resolutions are distributed in schools, and students are asked to take them home, discuss with their parents and commit to at least halving their expenditure on firecrackers.
“If a family is spending Rs2,000 on firecrackers, we ask them to reduce it Rs1,000 the next year. Children get convinced easily, but it’s difficult to change the mindset of their parents. They feel it is ‘necessary’ to spend their Diwali bonus or salary on firecrackers. This attitude needs to change,” said Sushila Munde, state secretary of the society.
Also, through a competiton, school children were asked to write a unique letter, known as ‘Chintu’s letter’, in which Chintu is writing to his friend explaining the pollution that is generated during Diwali.
This year, society members also spoke to firecracker vendors and the Mumbai police. “We urged vendors not to sell firecrackers that cause noise pollution. We also spoke to the police about enforcing a 6-10pm deadline for the bursting of firecrackers,” she said.