Kolkata: Medical associations, doctors, environment experts and activists have made an appeal to chief minister Mamata Banerjee for a safe, clean and green Kali Puja without any fireworks this year. Bursting of crackers, if allowed, may lead to an uncontrollable rise in Covid infection, they said in the letter written to the CM.
The medical associations and green crusaders have come under the banner of ‘Bengal Clean Air Network (Bengal-CAN)’ and collectively written the letter requesting her not to allow any fireworks — low-decibel or high ones — this Kali Puja and Diwali. Sabuj Mancha, another platform for environment activists, has written a similar letter to the CM, appealing for a blanket ban on all kinds of fireworks during this ‘unusual’ time. Another leading environment crusader from the city, Subhas Datta, hs written a letter to the prime minister, urging him to announce complete lockdown on manufacturing, transportation, storage and trading of fireworks across the country.
All the doctors and NGOs have offered support to the administration at generating awareness among citizens with upcoming winter posing widespread respiratory ailments in Kolkata and rest of Bengal. “We want the state to announce a blanket ban on fireworks. Unusual time warrants radical actions,” said Naba Dutta of Sabuj Mancha.
The Bengal-CAN letter was signed by more than 15 organizations, including West Bengal Doctors’ Forum, Association of Radiation Oncologists of India, Society of Emergency Medicine India, South Asian Medical Students Association and NGOs like SwitchON Foundation, PUBLIC, WWF, ACTS and Kolkata Clean Air.
“In the background of the pandemic, it is of utmost importance for us to realize the need to limit air pollution this Kali Puja/Diwali as it would only aggravate the suffering all around and increase the death toll,” said Soirindhri Banerjee of Radiation Oncology, IPGMER & SSKM Hospital. “More careful approach is warranted from the administrative side to reduce the ambient air pollution in the winter. The dual enemies of air pollution and Covid-19 may cause havoc to human lungs,” added pulmonologist Arup Haldar.
“If crackers are used rampantly, the pollution will have impact even on recovered patients, including ones who has had mild infection,” warned pulmonologist Sushmita Roy Chowdhury. Pulmonolgist Raja Dhar added that crackers can increase the density of particulate matter in the ambient air by manifolds.
Vinay Jaju, co-founder of SwitchON Foundation, said: “We have urged the government to ban fireworks in cities where air quality is not satisfactory and only allow green firecrackers for limited hours on specific days in the rest of state.”