As India grapples with the ill effects of pollution caused by the use of fire crackers on Diwali, and with the Supreme Court banning the sale of crackers in the National Capital Region (NCR), a challenge has been thrown to Indian scientists. India's environment and Science Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, speaking to NDTV, has asked Indian scientists to develop a whole new class of fire crackers with near zero pollution.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing India International Science Festival, Dr Harsh Vardhan has challenged the scientific community to develop zero pollution fire crackers.
"I have asked scientists to work together for a year and try to find a solution to make pollution-free firecrackers. Since firecrackers are associated with the festival of Diwali and are thus attached to the sentiments of the people, including children who enjoy bursting crackers, making pollution-free firecrackers solves the pollution aspect of it," said Dr Harsh Vardhan, a practising ENT surgeon before he made a career switch and joined politics in 1993.
The minister was among the first to welcome the Supreme Court ban on fire crackers in the capital that he declared had come as a "huge support" for initiatives for the environment. Dr Harsh Vardhan, however, later deleted his tweets after a section on social media called the verdict anti-tradition.
Indian scientists have been asked to make crackers that emit almost no pollution by next Diwali. Some scientists, like Dr Girish Sahani, are ready to take the challenge.
Dr Girish Sahani, Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi, said, "We need to apply our best minds to this issue as it has become very important. Everyone loves the festive atmosphere of Diwali and yet, the impact of Diwali on the environment merits serious discussion. A solution from scientists of CSIR and everywhere else is the need of the hour. I do not see any reason why this problem, if not fully solved, at least mitigated tremendously."