Claiming to have saved Rs35 crore during the last two Diwali festivals by encouraging students not to ‘burn up’ money on firecrackers, Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) is all set to reach out to five to 10 million students all over the state this year with an appeal to celebrate the festival sans firecrackers.
MANS has suggested spending money on books, scientific toys or Diwali items like forts instead of wasting it on firecrackers.
MANS working president Avinash Patil and state principal secretary Milind Deshmukh said that in addition to 8,800 school students’ eco-clubs formed by the social forestry department, MANS would run the campaign against celebrating Diwali with firecrackers in at least 150 towns of the state.
Patil said that organising letter competitions, appealing to big traders in busy areas against selling firecrackers, creating awareness that purchase of firecrackers encourage child labour and pollution, starting temporary book stalls and stalls of scientific books and toys near firecracker stalls would be undertaken by MANS all over the state.
He said the MANS campaign was started 10 years ago and has picked up in the past six to seven years. He said that Rs20 crore and Rs15 crore were saved during the Diwali festivals in 2012 and 2011.
Asked how they arrived at the amount of Rs35 crore, it was explained that students themselves fill up a form stating how much they generally spend on firecrackers and the amount that they would save this year.
Patil said that MANS would reach out to 10,000 schools with a population of 5,000 to 10.000 during this Diwali.
He said that there are adequate legal provisions with respect to firecrackers and MANS would try to insist on enforcing those, including preventing the sale of firecrackers in the vicinity of densely populated areas. He said that the ban on firecrackers after 10 pm is also not adhered to.
Patil said that their campaign has resulted in less use of firecrackers and increased sale of books and donation of money saved to social organisations by students. He said almost 50 per cent of use of firecrackers is reduced in the past six-seven years due to the MANS campaign and increased awareness among citizens regarding firecrackers.
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar had given his consent to join the campaign against use of firecrackers during Diwali. The legend had shown willingness to use his name for this campaign three years ago and Dr Narendra Dabholkar had appealed to students through the letter signed by Tendulkar. Astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar, social worker Prakash Amte, Planning Commission member Narendra Jadhav and actor Nana Patekar also had joined the campaign and MANS issues certificate of participation to students with the photograph and autograph by all these five famous personalities.
Two lakh forms in Pune
MANS state principal secretary Milind Deshmukh said, “In Pune, MANS would reach out to schools through two lakh printed forms that are filled up by students who propose to save money by not spending on firecrackers.”