Diwali with a difference

For 29-year-old Madhukar Junnar, a resident of Bavdhan, Diwali now means new clothes, sweets and spreading awareness in his locality against bursting firecrackers. "My dog almost got a heart-attack a few years ago, as people in my society were bursting loud crackers. And after that, I decided to take up this cause," he says passionately.

Like Junnar, many people in the city are now taking up the cause against noise and air pollution caused by firecrackers. Apart from schools, colleges and NGOs, Puneites now feel the need to make a change from the ground level. Hence, many residential societies and buildings are now deciding not to burst crackers in their premises. Vedprakash Agarwal, chairman, Shri Chetan Co-operative Housing Society, in Aundh Road, says, "The society is over 25-years-old and ever since the beginning we had made a conscious effort to not burst crackers. A lot of people staying here are retired professionals and the noise and pollution is not good for them as they lead sedentary, quiet lives. Symbolically we do light sparklers, but that's it."

Sushil Kumar, member of the NIBM Road Residents' Forum has been propagating for a pollution-free Diwali since years. "We have around 110 societies that come under our Forum. We organise pre-Diwali melas in the societies and make sure that the residents get the message," he says.

Uday Bapat from Surya Housing Society in Kondhwa, says, "We have decided that as a society we will not burst crackers in the premises. But what can one say to individuals? If someone has decided to burst crackers, we don't have any authority to stop them." Referring to the recent reports about the number of noisy firecrackers violating decibel limits hitting a two-year low, Bapat adds that there needs to be stricter norms by the police to keep a check on the situation.

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